The 18-year-old, the son of former Northants skipper David, made his first-class debut against the Brown Caps, having been recalled from England Under-19s duties.
And he followed up his first wicket for the club, bowling Laurie Evans in Surrey's second innings, with a cool and composed cameo with the bat to see his side over the line.
When he walked to the crease there was still work to be done for Northants in their chase of 320 to win as they were teetering on 287 for seven, and the aggressive pace pair of Jordan Clark and England one-day bowler Reece Topley had a new ball in their hands.
Sales handled the pressure and took it all in his stride though, and his seven not out from 17 balls helped his team over the line.
He even had the pleasure of hitting the winning runs, as he slapped a short ball from leg-spinner Cameron Steele over mid-wicket for four to complete what was a record-breaking run chase as the County closed on 322 for eight.
"It's a bit different to what I am used to, playing second team and club cricket," said Sales.
"It was very enjoyable being out there with the boys, and it was a good win for us."
Asked about his thought process as he walked out to bat with Tom Taylor after tea, the teenager said: "I was just trying to keep it simple really.
"I set out to watch the ball and then get Tommy up the other end because he can obviously hit a big ball.
"I was just looking to survive and bat for as long as I possibly could, and just take it run by run."
As for that winning shot?
"I was thinking 'sweep', because he was just bowling wrong 'uns the whole time," said the youngster, who plays his club cricket for Overstone Park in the Northants Cricket League.
"But he dragged it down a little bit and I wasn't really thinking too much. I just thought 'hit it', and luckily it went for four."
Sales Snr wasn't at the County Ground to see his son hit the winning runs, but he had been there for the previous three days.
David famously hit a second innings double century on his first-class debut for Northants against Worcestershire, also as an 18-year-old, although he did get a duck in the first.
Meaning that James' two runs in his first innings do give him some bragging rights at home, although he did fall a little short in his second dig!
"It would have obviously been nice to follow in his footsteps and get a double ton on debut," admitted Sales Jnr, with a smile.
"But a win's a win and I am really happy."