4-25-06---Ryan Simalchik tossed 2 shut out innings and closer Matt Canuso struck out the side in the 5th inning as the visiting A's tied the Rockies 2-2 in exciting 8-year old Rookie League action Tuesday evening.
The A's jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning behind a 2-out double by Canuso and an RBI double by starting shortstop Kevin Gault. Not to be outdone by the A's pitchers, the Rockies used 5 different pitchers, and the A's could only muster a coupe of hits. Lead off hitter Mark Beachy, the youngest player on the A's, looked solid at the plate going 2-for-3, but could not get a late rally started. Defense and pitching, however, were the story of the day, as the A's rotated players in and out of the infield, and the players responded with flawless fielding. Rory McIntyre, without any prior experience, played 2 excellent innings catcher. Mark Lemmerman stopped a shot to left field off a Simalchik pitch, and kept the hitter to a single with a bullet to second base. When Kevin Gault entered the game, Coach Martin knew he had to put two solid catchers behind the plate for the rookie pitcher, and he turned to Steve Arfuso in the 3rd inning and Andrew Spillane in the 4th. Arfuso guided Gault to a 1-2-3 inning in the 3rd, and when Gault walked a couple batters, Spillane settled his pitcher down and Gault struck out two straight batters to end the Braves 2-run rally.
In the 5th inning, the A's had the heart of the lineup against the Rockies lefty closer, and it looked like the game would come down to strength-against-strength. Simalchik drew a walk, and got to second with two outs on a fielder's choice by Gault. With the 5-hitter Billy Martin at the plate and an 0-2 count, Martin hit a mile-high blast out in front of home plate, which was sure to score the run from second if it struck the dirt. However, a tremendous defensive play by the diving Rockies' pitcher caught the ball and ended the rally with the home team headed to the bottom of the last inning tied at 2.
A's closer Matt Canuso stepped to the mound for his first real test of his promising pitching career, and met the pressure head on. After a 1 out walk, Canuso bore down on the hitters increasing his velocity and struck out the remaining 2 Rockies hitters swinging, ending the game in a 2-2 tie.
Pitching Coach Frank Canuso was thrilled with the performance from his bull pen: "Going into this year, you don't know what to expect. Do I have one pitcher who can throw strikes? Two maybe? Well, we have three solid performers and I think we have three more that can give us a few innings a week. But the boys looked impressive tonight on both sides."
The A's play next on Saturday, going for their first win.