By Jim Buckley: Thanks to great pitching and a single run in the fifth, Foresters manager Bill Pintard earned the 1,000th career victory of his amazing 25-year coaching career. His team earned a 1-0 win over the Haysville Aviators in the first game of the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kansas. Pintard and the ’Sters will go for No. 1,001 when they take on the Grand Bank Bat Cats in a battle of 1-0 teams on Sunday. The game time is scheduled for 5 pm Santa Barbara time on AM 1290.
The 2019 (19 . . . how appropriate) team that helped Pintard reach that goal gathered after the game to award him the game ball. A group photo was arranged with 1,000 spelled out in baseballs in front of a very happy team and its leader, just as was done for the 800th and 900th victories in recent years. The 1,000 wins include an all-time record NBC World Series seven championships (and more than 100 wins here in Wichita). They also include memories of the hundreds of great players who have contributed to those wins, including, of course, the late Eric Pintard, who was certainly on Bill’s mind as the final out was recorded.
Pintard might have 1,000 wins, but after watching tonight’s action, he might be down a few fingernails. The Foresters teased fans all night long, putting runners on base in seven different innings, but managing only a single run. Fortunately, while the offense sputtered, the pitching and defense were stellar.
Foresters starter Ryan Bergert was especially outstanding, striking out six in his six shutout innings. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and didn’t give up his only hit until the fifth inning.
The Santa Barbara bullpen did its usual marvelous job. Ryan Sublette, making his Foresters debut (he was added for the tournament from the OC Riptide after the departure of five, count ’em five, pitchers from the regular-season roster) pitched the seventh. He gave up two infield singles, but a double play ended the threat. Elijah Trest came on for the eighth and allowed only a walk. Hunter Breault closed things out in the ninth for his fifth save.
Bergert and the pen got help from their defense. Third baseman Nick Bellafronto made a great play on a bunt attempt in the second and then ranged to his left to get the first out in the third. In the fifth, centerfielder Christian Franklin laid out for a run-saving catch of a line drive. Tevin Tucker ended the seventh by starting a 6-3 double play. In the bottom of the eighth, catcher Zach Presno completed a strike’em-out/throw-em out double play.
In the fifth, Eric Kennedy finally broke a 0-0 tie with a two-out single that scored Tevin Tucker from second base.
The Santa Barbara offense had shown sparks of life throughout. Zach Presno got a leadoff walk in the second but was stranded. Tevin Tucker led off third with a single and stole second on the first pitch home, but then he was picked off by the catcher. Presno walked again in the fourth and made it to second, where he watched his teammates fail to advance him further. They kept chipping away, as Jacob Katzfey beat out an infield single to lead off the fifth. Unfortunately, he was picked off by the pitcher while trying to steal. Tucker followed with another hit and then stole second again. That set him up to score on for Kennedy’s big hit.
It’s impossible to wrap up 1,000 wins in one story, but every player and coach who have contributed to those wins should certainly know they were part of tonight’s celebration. From the first W way back in 1995 to tonight’s milestone event, the Foresters organization has been blessed to have Pintard in charge.