By Jim Buckley (UPDATED)
UPDATE: Here’s a nice story with video from the Wichita Eagle about the Foresters’ championship.
CHAMPIONS! The Foresters walked off with a trophy thanks to a ninth-inning bases-loaded walk to win their seventh NBC World Series National Championship, setting a new all-time record for the 84-year old tournament. The ’Sters won 6-5 over the National Junior College All-America team.
“This is what we’ve been aiming for all season,” said manager Bill Pintard. “The ultimate goal is this national championship. When we start recruiting in September, this is what we’re aiming for, players and coaches alike. We stayed the course and never took our eye off the target.
“I’m so proud to be from Santa Barbara and represent our team and be the coach of this ballclub. I’m grateful to all our players, our staff, our board of directors, and everyone who helps these young men get into position to win this championship.”
Pintard later thanked the crowd after the game and said he and the team were honored to win the title in the last game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium; the NBC will move to Wichita State in 2019. The team then surrounded Bill as he and the team hoisted the championship trophy that will soon be on the Ster bus heading back to Santa Barbara!
“We want to thank everyone for their support and for making this such a great summer,” said DH Logan Allen after scoring the winning run. “I’m already looking forward to next summer.”
UPDATE: Logan Allen was voted by his teammates as the 2018 Foresters MVP. Brett Standlee was voted the Eric Pintard Trophy as the top pitcher on the team. Ryan Cash and Utah Jones were given coaches’ awards for outstanding teamwork and performance.
The 2018 championship game held little drama until that final inning, but then it made up for it in spades. The Foresters held a three-run edge with two outs in the top of the ninth until their bullpen imploded, though perhaps aided by some tight calls on pitches. Two pitchers allowed two hits and four walks that led to three runs, tying the game. That opened the door for the Foresters’ final-inning heroics.
After Allen led off the ninth with a single, the next two batters were hit by pitches. Patrick Mathis worked a walk to force in Allen with the dogpile-creating run. Mathis later was awarded the NBC World Series MVP award.
The Foresters poured from the dugout to land on Mathis between first and second. Nothing quite as nice as ending the season with a giant pile of ballplayers!
Before the excitement of the end of the game, Santa Barbara had gotten to Nationals’ pitching early. For the second night in a row, Patrick Mathis went yard, smacking a line drive into the right-field foul pole in the first. Luke Ritter, who had been hit by a pitch, scored ahead of Mathis as they scored the game’s first runs.
Santa Barbara added two more in the second on a single by Elijah Alexander and a bases-loaded groundout by Brandon Lewis. The damage could have been greater, but Ritter and Mathis popped out with runners in scoring position.
That missed opportunity looked ominous after the Nationals scored twice in the top of the third. An error by Lewis, only the third committed all tournament by SB, allowed a run to score and that was followed by a two-out bloop RBI single. In the fourth, the Nats chased Foresters starter Jackson Wolf after two hits. Conner Woods came on in relief and after a double-steal by the Nats, Woods walked a batter. Then some high drama, as, wIth the sacks full of Nats, Woods struck out Tktkt Blaylock and then got a fly ball out to prevent any damage.
Nationals relief pitcher Juan Cabrera did an excellent job, shutting down the Foresters for nearly four innings, including erasing SB 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth, and sixth.
Meanwhile, Foresters pitcher Brett Standlee was even better. He took over for Woods and faced the minimum in four innings, highlighted by an “Immaculate Inning” in the fifth—nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts. “I with Standlee could have been the winning pitcher in this game, he was outstanding,” said Pintard.
In the seventh, Santa Barbara added an important insurance run. Alexander was hit by a pitch and bunted to second by Logan Allen. Then Ritter, struggling at the plate but still having the clutch ability that made him the 2017 MVP, banged a run-scoring single to left to make the score 5-2 and set up a dramatic inning.
Then came the ninth and the fireworks and the dogpile.
Other hardware handed out included a trio of Foresters winning the Home Run Trophy: Brendan Lewis, Patrick Mathis, and Slade Heggen each had a pair of round-trippers.