It wasn't just cruel and unusual punishment that the Stockton Ports inflicted Friday upon the Ventura County Gulls at Ventura College. It was cruel, unusual and unrelenting punishment.
The Ports had 23 hits off five Gulls pitchers, scoring in every inning except the seventh and the ninth as they handed the Gulls their worst loss of the season, 20-7.
"We didn't throw many good pitches," Gull Manager Glenn Ezell said. "And they didn't miss many."
The Ports, leaders in the California League's Northern Division with a 13-5 record in the second half, warmed up on Gull starter Todd Provence, who entered the game with a 2.30 earned-run average.
After leadoff batter Rob DeWolf flied out, Walt Pohle doubled, Sandy Guerrero walked and Angel Rodriguez tripled them home. Then Tim Casey hit the first of his two home runs and the Gulls were in a hole, 4-0.
As the game progressed, the hole became an gorge, then an abyss. And the Gull defense, which made five errors, did little to prevent Ventura County from falling to 7-11, third in the Southern Division.
"It held true today and it's held true all year long: When we don't catch the ball, we don't win," Ezell said. "I'm not putting the blame for today's game on the errors because we just didn't have good pitching."
Provence (3-5) lasted two innings and gave up eight runs and seven hits. Only Tom Wasilewski, who pitched 1 innings as the Gulls' fourth pitcher, didn't give up any runs or hits.
Before it was over, the Ports hit six triples, five doubles as part of a smorgasbord of hits that included two apparent singles to right field that turned into triples on bad hops.
It could have been worse. Not only did Stockton score 20 runs--the Ports left 11 runners on base.
When Casey came to bat in the ninth, he had the chance to hit for the cycle with a double. Instead, he blasted another home run deep over the right-field wall.
"It's fun to win a game like this," Gull shortstop Eric Yelding said. "When you lose one, though, all you can do is wake up the next day ready to play.
"In rookie ball, we won a game like this 24-23," he said, recalling his days at Medicine Hat, Alberta, in the Pioneer League two years ago. "You can't explain these kind of things. I've never got beaten like this in three years of professional ball. Usually six or seven runs wins a game."
If losing after scoring seven runs is bizarre, so was a play in the fifth inning. With Stockton's Darryel Walters at third, the third Gull pitcher, Elvis Ciprian, tossed the ball to the plate umpire, apparently requesting a new one.
The ball rolled to the backstop and Gull catcher Greg Myers didn't hurry to get it. Walters raced home.
"Apparently Elvis didn't call time out," Ezell said. "To tell you honestly, I had taken my eye off the play."
And off the scoreboard, which showed the Ports leading 16-3 after Walters scored.
The most runs the Gulls had allowed this year came in a 13-5 April loss to Bakersfield. The Stockton beating made the runs Bakersfield scored seem like ancient history to Ezell.
"Shoot, I don't even remember Bakersfield," he said. "That was another era back then."