By Will Bashur
The Foresters powered their way to a 7-4 victory over the Conejo Oaks Tuesday, riding their bottom-of-the-order bats to put their league rivals away in the early going. Blake Hall, Zach Presno, Spencer Jones, and Ryan Cash—the 6-7-8-9 hitters—combined for nine hits and five RBIs, pacing the Foresters’ offense throughout the game. Tuesday marked the third consecutive game the Foresters have recorded ten or more hits, continuing their recent offensive surge.
Even though Santa Barbara’s offense was firing on all cylinders, they were not the first to score.
In the second, Oaks right fielder Steele Ledford started a one-out rally with an infield single. After Ramon Gomez advanced Ledford with a ground ball to the right side, Daniel Crasnick drew a walk, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Tyler Odekirk then ripped a single off Foresters starter Cole Quintanilla, driving in Ledford and putting the Oaks up 1-0.
But the Foresters quickly responded to the early deficit, plating three runs of their own in the third.
Presno began the innings by reaching on an error committed by Oaks shortstop Gabe Baldovino. Jones then hit a bloop single that landed between three Oaks defenders, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Cash delivered in the scoring opportunity, hitting a hard single down the first base line. The single allowed Presno to easily score, and Jones was able to sprit home from first after Ledford’s throw missed the catcher Crasnick and ricocheted off the backstop. The hectic turns of events put the ’Sters up 3-1.
Santa Barbara continued smoking the ball in the fourth when Nick Bellafronto hit a line drive double over the head of the second baseman. After Dru Baker struck out, Hall picked up his own booming double, driving in Bellafronto to increase the lead to 4-1. Jones picked up an RBI of his own with an opposite field single, scoring Hall and giving the Foresters a comfortable 5-1 advantage.
Conejo took back a run of their own in the bottom half of the fourth after a passed ball by Presno allowed Ledford to scamper home, cutting the deficit to 5-2. Reliever Brock Helverson prevented any more damage from being done, skillfully navigating his way out of a jam with two on and nobody out.
The Foresters bullpen picked up right where they left off on Sunday, shutting out the Oaks over the next four innings. Connor Curry, Clayton Beeter, and Brad Demco struck out a combined six batters and allowed just one hit.
Runs weren’t scored again by either team until the ninth, when Presno smacked a double to drive in Baker, giving the ’Sters a larger 6-2 lead. Cash deposited his second hit of the game with an opposite-field single, giving him his second RBI of the afternoon and putting the Foresters up 7-2.
The Oaks looked all but defeated until Ross Cadena failed to catch a routine fly ball to left. The error breathed new life into the downtrodden Oaks offense as three of the next four batters reached, loading the bases for Ryne Yamashiro. Yamashiro hit a line drive back up the middle off Drake Greenwood, scoring two runs and cutting Santa Barbara’s lead to 7-4. Caden Monke entered the game to bail out Greenwood, but quickly gave up a hard single to Ledford, setting up another bases-loaded opportunity for Conejo. The next batter, Gomez, ripped a sinking line drive to center field that looked like it was bound to tie the game. But in came a soaring Eric Kennedy to make a spectacular diving catch, saving the day for the Foresters to cement the 7-4 win.
The Foresters will head down to Irvine Wednesday to face off against the OC Riptide. Be sure to tune into AM 1290 at 6:30 PM to catch all the action.