By Emma Del Sol
Colt Atwood’s bunt single with two outs and a man on third in the top of the ninth proved to be the game winner in the Foresters 4-3 win over archrival SLO Blues. Starting pitcher Jon Duplantier was on fire today for the Foresters giving up no runs in six innings. The runners in the first inning were on fire on the bases as well, stealing a total of five in the first inning.
Atwood led off the first inning with a four-pitch walk and then stole second and third off starting pitcher Dakota Hudson. Jaylin Davis then stole second in the next at bat. Dillon Dobson then had a sharp hit double to the gap in center scoring Davis. Dobson and Brett Boswell, who reached on a walk then had a double steal, totaling five steals in the first inning.
In the first inning Rice University pitcher John Duplantier was solid behind the mound, retiring the side on ten pitches.
In the second inning Jon Duplantier was able to get out of a bases loaded jam by striking out two batters and leaving the bases loaded for the Blues who failed to score.
Atwood led off the third inning with a hard hit single to the second baseman. Atwood then stole second, his third steal of the game.
Duplantier received some defensive help in the bottom of the third inning from AJ Kennedy and Dobson. Dobson made a spectacular dive to stop a ground ball and make the flip out to second, while Kennedy was able to throw out the leadoff batter on a bunt right in front of home plate.
Jon Duplantier had a quick inning, retiring the side and striking out one of the three batters he faced.
AJ Balta led off the top of the fifth inning against the second pitcher of the game from Mississippi State, Vance Tatum, hitting a high fly ball to the third baseman.
Duplantier continued his strong performance behind the mound- striking out the bottom two batters in the line-up. Kennedy then threw out the base runner attempting to steal with a bullet to second, ending the fifth inning.
Dobson provided the first hit in three innings for the Foresters, with a hard hit ball over the right fielders head for a double in the top of the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Duplantier gave up a lead off triple, however, he was able to get out of that jam by striking out the next two batters and then having the cleanup batter, Zachary Zehner ground out to shortstop.
Pinch hitter David Greer led off the top of the seventh inning with a walk. Greer then reached second on a sac bunt from AJ Balta and stole third during Kennedy’s at bat. Kennedy reached first on a four pitch walk. Atwood then walked, loading the bases for the Foresters. On the first pitch of the at bat Ford Stainback hit a single to right scoring Greer and AJ Kennedy. Stainback stole second, however Davis struck out swinging to end the inning.
Dave Graybill came in to relieve Duplantier in the bottom of the seventh and retired the side, striking out two of the three batters he faced and having the other batter ground out to him.
Graybill gave up a leadoff double who scored on a double to center field. Brandon Quintero gave up a hit to Jacob Hoyle scoring Moberg. On the play, Atwood made a spectacular throw to third throwing out the runner at third. The Blues then scored on a single by Eric Lewis to tie the Foresters.
In the top of the ninth AJ Balta reached base on a walk and then reached third on a groundout by AJ Kennedy. Balta then scored on a game winning bunt single by Atwood!
Ryan Helsley came in to pitch for the Foresters in the bottom of the ninth and struck out the side! The Foresters win on Atwood’s walk off!
EP Beverage Player of the Game is Colt Atwood for his game winning hit but also for his spectacular defensive performance in right field. Atwood also had three steals in the game. Bill Pintard had this to say about the game, “That’s what you call grinding it out”, in reference to the ‘Sters ninth inning win!