By Matt Mitchell
As the Foresters closed out Pershing Park for 2017, the ending was almost perfect. Starting pitcher Blair Henley retired the first 16 batters he faced and 21 of 24 overall, John McMillon and Spencer Steer added a pair of home runs, and Santa Barbara knocked off the San Luis Obispo Blues, 7-0. With the win, the Foresters improved to 22-6 at home and 30-12 overall.
“The story of the game was Blair Henley,” Foresters manger Bill Pintard said. “He was really, really good. He was just attacking hitters and you could see that he hardly went any deep counts. He’s a big time pitcher.”
Henley tossed seven innings of one-hit ball with no runs. He struck out nine and allowed no walks. He did not allow his first baserunner until a one-out triple in the sixth. Quite simply, it was a near-perfect start.
“I try to got out and pound the zone and today was just kind of working for me,” Henley said. “We had the fans here for their last game at Pershing, so I had to go out there and do that.”
The Foresters were locked in a pitchers’ duel early in the game, but finally got the offense going in the bottom of third inning when David Hamilton scored from third on a wild pitch, giving the Foresters a 1-0 lead. Henley continued to the cruise through the Blues’ lineup, until the Forester offense got its signature big inning in the sixth.
Spencer Steer hit a sac fly to make it 2-0. John McMillon, starting in right field, gave the fans a thrill and the Foresters a little more insurance with a three-run bomb over the rightfield fence to cap off the inning, making it 5-0 Foresters.
“With runners in scoring position and two outs, I was just trying to make contact. McMillon said. “It was a 3-1 count and I got one and put some good wood on it and got a good swing. I got the result I wanted.”
After another 1-2-3 inning from Henley, the Foresters then added another run in the seventh inning on an Austin Todd double to make it 6-0. Spencer Steer then added another run on a solo shot in the eighth inning, just for good measure. That gave the Foresters five homers in their final two games at their new home by the waterfront.
Santa Barbara’s bullpen was flawless, as Kyle Smith and Colton Follett each worked scoreless innings in relief of Henley. San Luis Obispo managed only a pair of hits against Foresters pitchers, as the Foresters cruised their way toward their 30th win of the season.
The Foresters will wrap up the regular season Monday night against the Conejo Oaks for their season finale in Thousand Oaks. First pitch will be at 6 p.m. The game will not be broadcast but fans can follow pitch-by-pitch on the GAMECAST link at the top of the home page of www.sbforesters.org.