By Jim Buckley: The toughest rivalry of the summer (and just about every summer) ended on Wednesday night as the Foresters and San Luis Blues battled it out for the final time in 2021. The series has seen highs and lows for both clubs—and in fact ended up tied 3-3—but when the bell rang on this final round, it was the Foresters still standing, 12-4.
As with Tuesday night’s win over Conejo, it was the top of the order that did most of the damage, with the leadoff quartet—Seth Stephenson, Andrew Kachel, Dylan Campbell, and Ryan Wrobleski—piling up nine hits, eight runs, and five RBI. The game was a tale of two halves, with the Foresters scoring just once in the first four innings, then busting out—thanks in large part to that foursome—piling up 11 runs in innings five through eight. (Not that the rest of the order didn’t do its part; six-hole hitter Nate Rombach led the team with three RBI.)
And so to the round-by-round scorecard: Boom, boom, boom! That was the sound of a trio of early home runs that flew into the San Luis night in the first two innings. The first came off the bat of Kachel, his second of 2021. In the bottom of the inning, TJ Clarkson of the Blues did the same. An inning later, Grant Burton hit another solo homer to put San Luis up 2-1.
The next big boom came on a double in the fifth by Ethan Bates that scored two runs and put the Foresters up 3-2.
The Blues tied it up in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out single that scored a Blues batter who had been hit by a pitch. The Santa Barbara pitcher who did that hitting, Cole Reeves (pictured), was very solid for manager Bill Pintard, striking out 11 in five innings while walking only one. But he left with the score tied.
No problem: Reeves’s teammates had his back. In the top of the sixth, Dylan Campbell singled and stole second and was sent home by Wrobleski’s single to give the Sters the lead. After Jared Thomas singled, Rombach kept the hit parade going. Wrobleski scored, too, though Thomas was cut down on the basepaths.
The Blues handed the Foresters a run in the seventh. After Carson Wells doubled, Josh Stinson tried to bunt him to third. Instead, the pitcher fielding the bunt zinged it past first base, allowing Wells to score. After Stinson got to third on a wild pitch one batter later, Stephenson’s single made the Georgia speedster lucky run number seven. Stephenson himself scored when Wrobleski earned his second RBI of the evening with another single. A two-out walk to Rombach loaded the bases for Ethan Bates. Campbell scored on a wild pitch while Bates stood at the plate, and the score moved to 9-3 Sters.
A long drive that eluded Wells in left got the Blues one run back in the seventh, but a double by Campbell, his third hit of the night, got it right back in the eighth, driving in Stephenson. With two outs, the score 10-4, and the bases loaded, Rombach doubled a 3-2 pitch to left to move the total to an even dozen runs. In relief of Reeves, Peyton Cole, Steven Zobac, and Nick Proctor pitched four one-run innings with seven strikeouts to give their teammates a chance to get back in it.
It’s back to home cooking for the Foresters, who return to Pershing Park for a four-game homestand that starts with the Ventura Pirates on Thursday at 6 pm. Tune in to AM 1290 if you can’t be at the ballpark in person!