They say you can't win them all. It turns out they were right, but folks around here were starting to wonder. The Marysville Gold Sox finally had their long winning streak come to an end, losing Sunday to the Redding Colt .45s 6-4. The collegiate wood-bat summer club won its first 15 games of 2012, after winning its final 20 in 2011. 35 games in all, in a winning streak that lasted 345 days.
Especially in the 2012 portion of the streak, it's wasn't that the Gold Sox kept winning, it was how they won. It was almost as if they had received a script sometime in the afternoon, went over their lines before batting practice, and went out and put on an unbelievable performance that night. Each episode was different, and kept viewers guessing, even though the end result was always the same.
On Opening Night, both sides committed a few errors, the Gold Sox led all the way, and won 9-4. The next night, the Sox hammered out 20 hits and won 17-1. The following night, the Marysville starting pitcher took a perfect game into the sixth inning, the opposition got one hit all night, and the Sox won 5-0. And then the next night, after the other team scored a run in the first inning, Marysville countered with five in their half, and went on to win 14-7. And that was just the first weekend.
Weekend number two included a 1-0 victory, and a 23-3 win. It's baseball, and anything can happen, but everything that happened resulted in another home town W. On June 8, the Gold Sox had to bat in the bottom of the ninth for the first time during the entire streak. A leadoff double, then a base hit, and the Gold Sox win again. Friday night, the Gold Sox had to bat in the bottom of the ninth again, and this time were down three runs. The streak had to come to an end now, right? Nope. Two walks, a pitching change, another walk to load the bases, and then a three-run triple to tie it. With nobody out, two intentional walks were issued to re-load the bases. The next batter was called out on strikes on a pitch that looked inside, which would have ended the game. With the outfield in, the next batter lines a base hit over the center fielder's head. Game over, streak continues.
Saturday, the visiting Redding Colt .45s hit three home runs. It was the first time an opposing team had ever done that to the Gold Sox, but all of the homers were with no one on base, and Marysville won again. This time 9-4.
So on Sunday, when the Gold Sox were down by three headed to the last of the ninth, you just had to wonder how they were going to pull it out this time. The leadoff batter grounded out. Uh oh. Then there was a walk, followed by a wild pitch, and then an infield single. Okay, here we go. The next batter grounded into a force play at second. One run scores but the Gold Sox are down to their last out, but the tying run is at the plate. What's going to happen now?
A big six-foot-six lefty stands in. He goes the opposite way, and hits a fly ball to deep left field. It might have the distance, or at least hit the wall for extra bases. It's back, and slicing down the line. The left fielder is over, on the warning track. He makes the catch. The ball game is over.
Another thing they say is that all good things must come to an end. When the streak got to 33, I joked that the Gold Sox had tied the 1971-72 Lakers for the longest in NBA history. When the streak got to 34, I looked up the longest baseball streaks. It turns out that 34 was the NCAA record, held by Florida Atlantic in 1999, and Texas in 1977. The major league record is 26 by the 1916 New York Giants, but that streak had a tie in it. The '35 Cubs won 21 straight without a tie, and the 2002 Oakland A's of Moneyball fame won an American League record 20 in a row. John Wooden's college basketball streak of 88 at UCLA is safe, but quite an accomplishment from a collection of college guys away from home for the summer in a little northern California town.
On deck: The Gold Sox take their only road trip of the season this week. They travel to Arcata to take on the Humboldt Crabs Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The Crabs have operated every year since 1945, making them the oldest baseball team on the West Coast still in existence. This is the third time the Gold Sox have traveled to play the Crabs, and the first time since 2008.