Good starts turned into a very good ending. The Foresters put the leadoff man on base three times and scored in all three innings. That production played a big part in their 13-1 victory Sunday over the Sharp End Athletic team that gives Santa Barbara a chance to win their pool at the NBC World Series on Tuesday night.
The Foresters were ahead 5-1 before they broke open a relatively close game with an eight-run eighth inning that led to the game being called after that inning due to the NBC’s “mercy” rules.
“We are really locked in as hitters,” said manager Bill Pintard.
Santa Barbara got its first runs from a very familiar source. After Hank LoForte led off the third with the first of his four hits and Matt Henderson was hit by a pitch, Kyle Isbel moved both runners up with a perfect sacrifice bunt. The Sharp End team must not have watched Friday’s Foresters game, because instead of walking heavy-hitting third baseman Bret Boswell, they pitched to him.
Boswell, who had five RBI in Friday’s game, drove a two-strike pitch into right centerfield to score the Foresters’ first two runs on Sunday.
“We’ve seen Boswell for three years now and seeing how he’s grown and changed, and it’s been incredible,” Pintard said. “He’s gotten stronger and he’s staying back on the ball and recognizing pitches, and that’s the sort of thing that comes with experience.”
Lex Kaplan and Tyler Adkison followed Boswell’s double with singles that drove in runs to give the Foresters a 4-0 lead after three innings.
That was more than enough for the Foresters’ pitching staff. Their depth showed clearly as manager Bill Pintard was able to hold regular No. 2 starter Connor Mayes for Thursday’s quarterfinal. Matt Hartman started and allowed only two hits and struck out five in his four innings of work. Five Foresters relievers combined to allow only one hit the rest of the way.
“We really thought we could beat this team with our staff,” Pintard said. “We really wanted get guys on the mound here and get used to throwing in this stadium.”
The Foresters did give up their first run of the tournament in the fourth. On attempted double steal, catcher Nico Pacheco had the runner heading to second hung up, but his throw was high and sailed into center, allowing Sharp End’s Oscar Sepulveda to keep running and score. Sharp End would then load the bases with one out, but Hartman struck out two to end the threat.
Santa Barbara added to the scoring in the seventh, again started by a leadoff hit. Boswell reached on his second hit of the day, an infield single. Hunter Williams stroked a double down the left-field line, his third hit of the day, to score Boswell (pictured above sliding into home plate).
Williams was hit by a pitch, Kaplan walked, Adkison was hit also, and then Moroney and Coe both walked. All that with the bases loaded broke open the game and the Foresters led 10-1.
It wasn’t over yet, as pinch-hitter Hunter Stovall drove a single to left to score Adkison. Then Henderson was hit by a pitch to drive in Moroney. Coe scored the final run of the inning, and the lucky thirteenth of the game, on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Paul, who hit for Isbel.
A 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth ended the game due to the NBC tournament’s mercy rules.
LoForte led the way with four hits, while Williams had three. Boswell and Kaplan each had a pair. Nine different Foresters drove in runs.
The Foresters will continue their Hugs for Cubs work on Monday during their annual visit to Via Christi Hospital in Wichita. On Tuesday, they return to the field to play for the Pool C championship against the Fairbanks Goldpanners on Tuesday. First pitch scheduled for 5 pm.
Photos by Brett Schauf.