By Jim Buckley
For the second game in a row, the Foresters fell behind the Conejo Oaks, and for the second time in a row, they came back to win. Unlike Sunday’s extra-inning affair, however, the Tuesday game ended in nine with a 10-1 Foresters win. First baseman Zach Presno led the way with three hits and five RBI including a ninth-inning grand slam. Santa Barbara moved to 4-0 on the young season.
Presno led an offense that amply supported starting pitcher Isaac Coffey (1-0), who gave up a home run to the second batter, Raul Sandoval. That was followed by a pair of base hits. After that, though, Coffey settled down, closing the first with a pair of strikeouts. In the following three frames, he allowed only one hit and no runs. The Foresters bullpen did the rest, throwing eight scoreless, hitless innings.
“At first I was getting behind and so I had to go with fastballs,” Coffey said of his quick recovery. “After that, I started to get ahead and I could throw what I wanted in the counts that I wanted.”
Coffey’s offense had his back, rallying against starter Gerry Ramirez in the fourth. Centerfielder Kennedy led off with a bunt that died in the grass near home plate. Showing off his speed, he then stole second and as the throw sailed into right field, he reached third. LF Ross Cadena followed with a deep fly to right to tie the game 1-1. A double by 3B Blake Hall–who matched Presno with three hits in the game–was followed one out later by a Presno triple and the Foresters were ahead 2-1.
“Today was fun, I like what the coaches preach here, and it’s been working out for us,” said Presno. “In the ninth [on the grand slam], I had two strikes and was just looking for a good pitch to hit.”
Santa Barbara added another run in the sixth. After a leadoff walk to Cadena, which he earned after fouling off several pitches, Hall smashed a long double to left-centerfield that allowed Cadena to reach home in a cloud of dust. In the eighth, Kennedy’s speed helped pad the lead. He led off with a walk and stole second . . . again. After advancing to third on a fly ball from Cadena, he came home on catcher Connor Pavolony’s first hit for the Sters.
Santa Barbara piled on six insurance runs in the ninth. The parade started with a pair of walks (to Ryan Cash and Kennedy) that sandwiched a single by RF Jacob Katzfey. Hall then drilled a line drive up the middle that smacked into pitcher Oaks pitcher Reece Matheisen, bouncing far enough off to allow Cash to score. Matheisen was unhurt. With the bases still loaded, Pavolony walked to drive in run number six.
The bases were unloaded quickly after Presno crushed a ball well over the left-field fence. It was his first homer for the ‘Sters.
As with the past weekend’s games, the Foresters bullpen continued to be a strength. Dylan Kelley, Christian Winston, Nico O’Donnell, and Brad Demco followed Coffey. Highlights included two strikeouts from Winston and a punchout on a 94-mph fastball by O’Donnell. O’Donnell also got help on a scrappy play by Tommy Holguin in the seventh. The second baseman snagged a grounder that had bounced off first baseman Presno, then fired to the pitcher covering first for an unusual 3-4-1 putout. In all, Foresters pitchers struck out 13 Oaks, continuing a string of impressive K totals: 16 on Saturday and 15 on Sunday.
Santa Barbara looks to continue their success Wednesday with a game at the OC Riptide; first pitch is 6:30 (note new start time from original schedule). Listen to all the action on