Yuba baseball starts strong
For a guy who said he had trouble getting comfortable, Ryan Zaft gave quite a performance for the Yuba College baseball team on Friday.
“It took me five innings to get loose,” the right-handed starter said. “It's been a while, it just took that long to get settled.”
Zaft, who didn't start a game last year at Sacramento City College, gave up three hits, four walks and struck out three in six innings of work to lead Yuba (2-0) to a 7-1 season-opening win in game one of a double-header with Siskiyous (0-2) at Gary Engelken Field.
Yuba starter Cliff Cleland pitched four strong innings for the game-two win as the 49ers completed the sweep with a 12-3 victory.
“I like that we came out and played well,” Yuba Coach Tim Gloyd said. “We hit well, we pitched well and we played solid defense. We made a few little errors, but they didn't hurt us.”
Yuba committed three errors on the day while Siskiyous committed seven.
Frank Avilla and Steve Shaver led an impressive Yuba offense that picked hits in key spots all afternoon long. Avilla went 5-for-7 on the day with two doubles, two RBI, five runs scored and three stolen bases while Shaver went 4-for-8 with three doubles, five RBI, two runs scored and four stolen bases.
The 49ers stole 14 bases on the day and were caught only once.
Zaft struck out Dan Chancelor on three pitches to open the day and pitched around trouble in each of the first four innings, dodging a two-out double in the first, a walk in the second, a one-out single and a balk in the third and a leadoff walk in the fourth.
But by the fifth he was locked in, forcing ground ball outs from five straight hitters before striking out Hogan Barnes on three pitches for the final out of the sixth inning.
Rackley Daniel came in for mop-up duty in the seventh and final inning, and he sat the Eagles down in order to seal the win.
Avilla, hitting from the second position in Yuba's lineup, got the season's first hit with a single up the middle in the first inning, and then scored the season's first run when Siskiyous catcher Steve Phillips tried to throw him out at third after a wild pitch.
Phillips' throw was in time, but it was also low, and it hit the dirt and bounced over the glove of third-baseman Hogan Barnes to allow Shaver to score easily.
Siskiyous' John Spooner tied the game at one in the top of the third when he scored from third base after Cody O'Neil beat out a fielder's choice on a double-play ball to Thomas at short that would have ended the inning.
But a walk to Deno Gellepes - Yuba's ninth batter - started a three-run third for the 49ers as Thomas and Avilla followed with back-to-back doubles to score two runs, and then A.J. Russo added another two-bagger to bring in Avilla for a 4-1 Yuba lead.
Shaver drew a walk with one out in the fifth and then stole second and third base and scored with two outs when Russo, after drawing a walk, got hung up in a rundown between first and second base.
Shaver dashed home to score before the third throw of the rundown, and Russo eventually moved on to second base after an errant throw by Siskiyous shortstop Owen Otsuka.
Miller and Thomas also scored in the seventh for the final 7-1 margin.
Game two - a nine-inning contest - was more of the same.
Siskiyous turned two hits and a walk into two runs in the first inning.
Avilla came in from third on a Mark Teague balk - one of three called against him in his four innings of work - in the bottom of the first and Ruben Cardenas came home on a Matt Miller double in the second to even the game.
Siskiyous responded with one in the top of the third, but then the 49ers, with the help of two errors by the Eagles, exploded for five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Avilla reached on an error to open the inning, and with one out, Russo hit a single to move him over to second before the two pulled off a double steal to move up to second and third.
A walk to Corey Todhunter loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly by Cardenas brought home Avilla.
Cameron Pembroke reached on an error that brought home Russo and, after a stolen base, Aaron Lowe drove home Todhunter and Pembroke to give Yuba a 7-3 lead it would never relinquish.
Thomas, Avilla and Shaver added runs in the sixth inning, and Travis Walden and Steve Shamblin scored on a double by Shaver in the seventh for the final 12-3 margin.
Douglas Hern, Daniel Miller and Gary Kenyon pitched in relief. Siskiyous went 1-for-17 against them and did not score a run.
“All around we played well,” said Shaver. “After the first inning everything clicked for us. Defense, pitching, offense, it was a total team effort for us today.”
Today's scheduled game between Yuba and Siskiyous has been canceled on expectation of rain.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Nathan D. Collier can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.