by Nate Loop
Photo by Eric Isaacs
Not every aspect of a Foresters game shows up in the box score. There wouldn’t be enough room to tell you just how great it is to see a diving catch in the outfield, when the glove catches the ball so close to the ground that blades of grass are sticking up through the leather fingers, or a double play ball where the second baseman’s throw beats the runner by half the length of cleat, and the fans exhale in one collective breath when they cheer the play (these things shows up as 8 putout or 6-4-3 double play in box scores).
So in a textbook pitcher’s duel, a 2-0 Foresters loss that was long on great pitching and short on clutch hitting, it’s best to mention the moments that aren’t jotted down in scorebooks or take place between the first and ninth innings, along with the game.
Prior to the start of the game, which was sponsored by Coastal Copy, the fans were witnesses to a wonderful pre-game ceremony. Manager Bill Pintard was joined by his brother Dave Pintard out on the barren field, just in front of the pitchers mound to address the crowd.
Today’s game fell on Eric Pintard’s birthday. Eric was not only Bill’s son, but a great Forester who was instrumental in starting the Foresters Hugs for Cubs program after receiving his own cancer diagnosis. Eric died of cancer in 2004, and today would have been his 40th birthday. Dave and Bill both spoke about how important Eric was to them and to the ‘Sters, and brought out Wyatt Taylor (pictured, with Bill Pintard). Taylor is a steadfast Forester’s supporter, and has really connected with the organization through his own battle with cancer. Dave and Bill presented him with an oversized, cobalt blue Foresters jersey, complete with a big red #1 on the back. The jersey came with plenty of room for him to grow into.
Then it came time to play some baseball. The Blues sent out Will Cox to take the mound, who brought his nastiest bag of tricks to the game. His pitches maneuvered their way around the Foresters bats all afternoon, as he gave up only three modest hits and struck out five in eight shutout innings.
John Beck started for the Foresters, and lacked the control and precision of Cox, although he still did pitch well. He gave up two runs, only one of them earned, in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Both of those runs came in the top of the second inning. Austin Grisham hit a sacrifice fly to score a companion Austin, catcher Austin Christensen, from third base. Later in the same inning, Nick Flair hit a sharp grounder to Cal Vogelsang at shorstop. Vogelsang was not only late on the throw, but a touch inaccurate, and the ball got past the first baseman, allowing Cody Dufrene to score.
Even though the Foresters weren’t winning, that didn’t stop the community of ‘Sters faithful from making their own contributions. The winner of the 50/50 raffle, which gives the fans a chance to win 50% of the take, with the other half going to Hugs for Cubs, was Craig Dolge, who works the merchandising stand at the game. Instead of pocketing his winnings, he used the money to give free pens and pennants to the kids attending the game, on the sole condition they made a funny face first. Craig made sure the kids would not go home empty handed.
So after Will Cox pinned down the Foresters for eight innings, the Blues brought in Daniel Mengden to close out the game. Mengden threw some balls that must have looked like aspirin tablets, and the seams on the 95mph fastballs are surely etched into the mitt of catcher Austin Christensen. The shutout was preserved, but on days like today, the defeats are confined to the numbers on the scoreboard.
The Foresters now begin a series against the Conejo Oaks. Tomorrow, kids get in free! So bring the whole family to enjoy the action and fun that is a Foresters baseball game. What better way to spend a summer afternoon? The game tomorrow will begin at 5:10 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.