By Will Bashur
The Foresters pulled off a miraculous comeback in Pasadena on Thursday, storming back from a 7-2 deficit to take the lead over the Arroyo Seco Saints 12-9. Santa Barbara scored a combined nine runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to climb all the way back before the game was called due to a timer on the stadium lights. The action will resume on Saturday at a time to be determined; we’ll spread the word as soon as we know!
In the game at Arroyo Seco, the Saints’ offense got off to a furious start, putting up seven runs in the first three innings. Drew Cowley began the scoring barrage for in the first, driving in Christian Scott and Evan Russell to put the Saints up 2-0 before an out had been recorded. CCL All-Star Andy Garriola followed with a soaring double of his own, pushing across Cowley to extend the early lead to 3-0. Pete Derkay pushed Garriola across the plate with a looping fly to center, giving the Saints a comfortable 4-0 cushion.
The ’Sters quickly picked themselves up in the second as Ross Cadena began the frame with a single. West Virginia speedster Tevin Tucker then tattooed an Alex Cornwall fastball over the center field wall for a two-run home run. Tucker’s first bomb couldn’t have come at a better time, putting Santa Barbara back in the game, 4-2.
But the Foresters dug themselves back into a hole in the third, with Evan Russell drawing a walk off Jackson. Russell then advanced to third on a Cadena error. Garriola hit another double, driving in his second run of the game to put Arroyo Seco up 5-2. The Garriola double forced Jackson from the game, as Foresters manager Bill Pintard summoned Texas Tech flamethrower Clayton Beeter.
The pitching change did nothing to phase the Saints, as Jayson Gonzalez quickly knocked a single to put runners at the corners with just one out. Derkay then picked up his second RBI of the night with a double, driving in Garriola and widening the lead to 6-2. The nightmarish third continued when Nikolas Pagan reached on a Conor McKenna error, allowing Derkay to score to further increase Arroyo Seco’s advantage to 7-2.
Cadena began another rally in the fourth with a hard double, and Blake Hall followed with an RBI single to cut into the lead Saints’ lead, 7-3.
Santa Barbara continued their comeback attempt in the fifth, when Stanford slugger Nick Bellafronto hit a booming two-run homer to left field, driving in Dru Baker. Bellafronto’s blast sliced the deficit to 7-5.
The wild back-and-forth game continued to seesaw in the bottom half of the fifth, as the Saints put up yet another two runs. Derkay and Pagan started things off with two singles off Christian Winston, who had just come into the game to replace Better. Both runners then advanced into scoring position after a Cadena passed ball. Wyatt Stapp followed with a walk, and Russell hit a clutch two-run single to put the Saints back in the driver’s seat, 9-5.
But Santa Barbara was determined to keep fighting, and began to mount a furious comeback in the sixth.
McKenna and Tucker started the inning with back-to-back singles off southpaw Jamie Robertson, and Tucker quickly stole second to put runners on second and third with no one out. Cash then hit a medium-deep fly ball to center, providing McKenna with a large enough window to scurry home, cutting the Saints’ lead to 9-6.
Santa Barbara then erupted like Mount Vesuvius in a hectic seventh inning, putting up a six-spot to take the lead after trailing the entire game. Zach Presno made his presence known with a monstrous solo shot to right-center field, pulling the ’Sters closer, 9-7. Cadena continued his great day at the plate with another single, and Hall followed with his second single of the day. Cadena then scored on a wild pitch from Robertson as Hall moved to third, shrinking the Saints’ advantage to 9-8. McKenna then recorded his second single of the day to push across Hall and knot the game at 9-9.
Total pandemonium then ensued when Tucker hit a slower roller to Saints shortstop Cowley. Cowley airmailed the throw to first, allowing McKenna to score to give the ’Sters a 10-9 lead, their first of the game, as the Foresters’ dugout went bananas. Two more Foresters came across the plate in the inning as Tucker scored on a passed ball and Christian Franklin recorded an RBI single, giving Santa Barbara a 12-9 lead after the dust had settled.
The three-and-a-half-hour marathon contest then ended abruptly, as the umpires had to call the game before the stadium lights were to turn off at 10:00 PM. The Foresters and Saints will resume play from the eighth inning on Wednesday July 17th at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Pasadena.
The Foresters will be back at home tomorrow to take on the Conejo Oaks at 6 PM. Be sure to tune into AM 1290 to catch all the action.