Sox close in on title
July 29, 2006 - Ryan Zaft doesn't look like an overpowering pitcher, but truth be told, he doesn't have to.
Zaft needed just 74 pitches in seven innings of work to lead the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox (35-8, 30-7) to a 6-0 win over the visiting NorCal Longhorns on Friday at All Seasons RV Stadium.
“Zaft carved them up again tonight,” Yuba-Sutter manager Brad Peek said. “Ground balls, first-pitch strikes, he gives the hitters the opportunity to get themselves out.”
Zaft (6-1) struck out three and walked none. Of the 21 outs recorded while he was on the hill, 14 were ground-ball outs, four were fly-ball outs and three were strikeouts. He also threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 24 batters he faced.
“I've had a few starts when I felt better,” Zaft said. “Tonight I was a little stiff, so I didn't have the velocity, but I was able
to locate the ball in and out when I wanted.”
Zaft, a product of both Yuba City High and Yuba College, is listed at 6-foot, 1-inch and a 170 pounds. He's allowed just three earned runs in a team-high 59 1/3 innings, and his ERA now stands at team-best 0.46.
For the year, he's struck out 39 and walked only seven.
“I want to be known as a location and ground-ball pitcher,” Zaft said. “It gets you out of the innings faster Å and it keeps the rhythm for your defense. If you start walking people you slow down the game, and sometimes your defense gets a little slow on their feet.”
With the win, Yuba-Sutter clinched a share of the McCullough Division title in the Horizon Air Summer Series. A victory tonight or tomorrow against the Longhorns will clinch the division outright.
The Gold Sox offense was strong as well, scoring five of their six runs on two-out hits.
Matt Kavanaugh and Matt Suleski powered Yuba-Sutter with two key hits: Kavanaugh with a three-run double in the fourth and Suleski with a leadoff home run in the eighth, his second long ball of the season.
A.J. Valentine and Matt Edgecombe each had two hits and an RBI for the Gold Sox. Suleski scored two runs.
Josh Roberts came on in relief of Zaft in the eighth. He had one strikeout in two perfect innings to close out the game. It was his first appearance in 10 days for the Gold Sox. He has been nagged by soreness in his forearm.
Five different Gold Sox runners stole bases against NorCal starter Scott Reid. Kavanaugh, Doug Thennis, Johnathan Dees and Suleski stole second, and Valentine swiped third.
Reid was charged with the loss.
Notes: The NorCal loss clinched the Engelken Division title for the San Diego Stars. Å The Gold Sox and the Longhorns play again tonight and tomorrow. Å Given Kutz is scheduled to start tonight for Yuba-Sutter.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Nathan D. Collier can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.