Kevin Gault socked a 1-out RBI triple in the fourth, and pitchers Ryan Simalchik and Matt Canuso were overpowering, as the Oakland A's defeated a gutsy Lake's Office Supply Team, 5-2 in 8-year old baseball Wednesday night.
A's starter Ryan Simalchik lowered his ERA to 0.71 by throwing 2 scoreless innings to get the A's off to a good start. The A's were motivated by a shake up in their lineup, moving Stephen Arfuso to the lead off spot. Arfuso did not disappoint, as he got on base twice and scored the first run of the game. But, after the first, the A's bats seemed welded to their shoulders, as player after player was rung up with a called third strike with runners in scoring position. However, in the third, after walks to Griffin "rally-starter" Foster, Canuso and Gault, cleanup hitter Mark Beachy drove in a run with a sharp ground ball. The A's scored two more runs and nearly scored 2 more off a sharp liner by Ryan Simalchik; but tremendous defense from the Lake's centerfielder nabbed Arfuso by a nose at second, ending the rally.
After Simalchik mowed down the Lake's batters in order in the first and fought his way out of a bases loaded, 1-out jam in the second, middle reliever Kevin Gault took the mound. Gault was impressive, allowing no hits and no runs, and introducing his patented "Ballerina Ball" chain up which baffled the Lake's hitters.
Coach Martin tried to get the team to aggressively go after the Lake's pitchers, but only Rory McIntyre and Mark Lemmerman, who got his first start at third base, responded, attacking the pitches. Lake's, however, would not give up, and clawed back into the game in the top of the fourth with two runs off ace reliever Matt Canuso, cutting the lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, desperately needing an insurance run, Coach Martin turned to Canuso and Gault. With 1 out, Canuso ripped a hit to center. Kevin Gault then took a 1-0 pitch and blasted a fast ball to the fence in right field for an RBI triple, giving the A's a 5-2 lead.
The daunting task of catcher for the fifth inning was assigned to Rory McIntyre, whose presence seemed to instill confidence in the A's closer Canuso. The usually unhittable battery of Canuso/McIntyre did not phase the Lake's batters, however. After a lead off walk, Dean Austin laced a line drive up the middle, with eyes on centerfield, when Canuso speared the ball for the first out. The next pitch was met by a ding of the bat and a screaming liner right back at Canuso, but with cat-like reflexes, Matt snared that come-backer for the second out. But it was obviously that Lake's had refused to quit, and more heroics would be needed to get the A's their second win. With two outs and the tying run on deck, Canuso stared down the Lake's clean up hitter. The batter hit a laser toward the gap in right field sure to go for extra bases, but second baseman Billy Martin made a professional-like backhanded grab, and then fired a strike to a twisting Ryan Simalchik for the game saving out at first base.
Owner Rob Simalchik said after the game: "The shake up in the lineup gave us a spark that we needed. We just need to be more aggressive around the plate next game." Pitching Coach Frank Canuso could not be reached for comment.
The A's play the Rockies whom they tied 2-2 on Friday at 5:30 at field 4.