By s Kirk Barron, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 12--The only thing that slowed the Marysville Gold Sox offense down was a hidden ball trick; they were a juggernaut otherwise, piling up 16 hits in a 12-5 win over the Auburn Wildcats Friday night at Appeal Democrat Park.

Designated hitter Steven Lozier tallied four hits for the second consecutive game, raising his season batting average to .527 in 55 at bats, and starting pitcher Ryan Pope recovered from a four-run first inning to silence the Wildcats for the next three innings.

With the win, the Gold Sox swept the two-game series with Auburn and improved their season record to 27-5 heading into a two-game series against the Nevada Bighorns. That series starts tonight at 7 p.m. and will be followed with a fireworks show after the game.

Making his first start since June 6, Pope got off to a rough start in the first inning, in part due to shaky defense behind him, and Auburn led 4-0 before the Gold Sox batters saw a pitch.

"(Pope) struggled a little bit in that first inning, but I told the pitching staff, 'All you've got to do is minimize the damage and get us back in the dugout and let our guys take care of business,'" Gold Sox manager Jack Johnson said. "If they minimize and keep us in the ballgame, then good things happen."

Good things started happening immediately after Pope got back into the dugout. Marysville's leadoff hitter, Lozier, singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Dalton Blaser.

Pope sent the Wildcats down in order in the second, and the Gold Sox cut the deficit down to one run after Yuba College product Michael Frantz blasted a double to the wall in left field and scored on a single by Yuba City native Louis Mejia. M.J. Farthing scored Marysville's third run when George Hatamiya's infield single was thrown out of play.

Two more perfect innings by Pope, who retired 11 straight at one point, allowed the Gold Sox to take the lead in the fourth inning.

Farthing and Mejia hit back-to-back doubles to tie it before Lozier sent a go-ahead RBI single to right field. Blaser hit his second RBI groundout to make it 6-4.

"These guys, the way they prepare for baseball games this summer has been outstanding," Johnson said. "So they don't worry about the scoreboard, they just worry about their at-bats and they worry about what they're responsible for -- and they play hard."

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Auburn scored an unearned run in the fifth inning, which was Pope's final frame. He allowed five runs, three earned, on four hits and one walk while striking out two.

He left with a 6-5 lead, and the Gold Sox kept adding insurance runs. Frantz added one run in the sixth on a RBI single after Charlie Wagner hit a double. Frantz raised his batting average to .310 and is second on the team with nine doubles and 21 RBIs.

The Cal State East Bay-bound shortstop is having an offensive resurgence after struggling at the plate for Yuba College, where he hit .250 with just three extra base hits and 10 RBIs in 35 games.

"I haven't hit this well in a long time, I don't know what it is, but I try not to stat-peek too much," Frantz said. He attributed his success to confidence and a lot of that comes from his teammates.

"This team is unreal. It's unbelievable the team's chemistry and how everybody meshes," he said. "It's so much fun. It's the most fun I've ever had playing baseball."

The Gold Sox added three more in the sixth as Ty Overboe hit an RBI single. They tacked on two more in the seventh after Blaser hit a run-scoring double -- Marysville's fifth double in the game -- and Devin Alexander drove him in with a single before being caught off first with the hidden ball trick.

CONTACT Sports Reporter Kirk Barron at 749-4789.


(c)2014 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



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