By Will Bashur
Turns out there IS deja vu in baseball. For the second night in a row, the Foresters lost 4-3 with the tying run on third base. On Thursday, it was the Arroyo Seco Saints who squeaked past the ’Sters (4-2). Saints pitchers Colin King and Cade Bullinger combined to strike out fourteen ’Sters, putting a stop to any late-inning comeback hopes.
Santa Barbara came out of the gates running in the first, as an Isaac Coffey walk and booming Blake Hall double put runners on second and third with just one out. But the Foresters’ struggle to deliver with runners in scoring position became evident quickly, when center fielder Danny Gelalich struck out swinging and left fielder Ross Cadena flew out, squandering a great scoring opportunity.
The Foresters looked poised to score again in the second when Conor McKenna smoked a two-out single up the middle and quickly stole second base. But King struck out second baseman Tommy Holguin to escape the jam. Santa Barbara finally broke through in the third when Cadena delivered with a clutch two-out single to put the ’Sters up 1-0.
Zach Presno then followed with a loud fly ball that sailed toward the left field line, but landed just a couple inches foul. The umpires, unsure if the ball had hit the line, took several seconds to make the foul call, prompting manager Bill Pintard to come out of the dugout and demand an explanation. The ball was ultimately confirmed foul, and Presno would go on to strike out, leaving another two Foresters stranded.
Arroyo Seco responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the third, when Thomas Luevano knocked a two-run single into left-center field for a 2-1 lead.
With the Foresters still trailing in the fifth, Santa Barbara leadoff man Tevin Tucker decided to take matters into his own hands. The speedy shortstop drew a walk off King, and swiped second and third before anyone could blink. King then threw a pitch behind Isaac Coffey to the backstop, allowing Tucker to tie the game at 2-2. King began to unravel and hit Gelalich squarely in the back, leading Arroyo Seco’s manager to make a call to the bullpen. Cade Bullinger entered in relief of King and ended the threat before the Foresters could do more damage. The Saints again quickly answered the Foresters’ scoring with a run of their own, scoring on a fielder’s choice after Santa Barbara starter Larson Kindreich plunked two batters and walked another.
Both bullpens were lights out until the Saints put together a string of hits in the seventh against Foresters reliever Kevin Larson. An RBI single by Morgan Allen extended the Saints’ lead to 4-2 at the end of seven. But the Foresters refused to saunter on home to Santa Barbara with another quiet loss.
Pinch hitter Eric Kennedy provided a much-needed spark in the ninth, punching a single through the hole to get the tying run on base. After Jacob Katzfey hit a high chopper to the right side of the infield to advance Kennedy, Hall slammed a ground-rule double to the alley in right-center, scoring Kennedy and closing the deficit to 4-3. Gelalich then pounded a ball to the warning in track in right field, allowing Hall to tag up and advance to third. Clutch Cadena entered the batter’s box looking to save the day for the Foresters, but he could not get Hall home, hitting a long fly ball to left that once again left the Foresters just a few feet away from extending the game.
The Foresters will look to rebound at home on Friday when they take on the Conejo Oaks at 6 PM at Pershing Park. Be sure to tune into FM 1290 to hear all the action.