By Jim Buckley in SB. Photos by Kylie Koeper and Ed Bailey: Nine is very, very fine. It was dogpile time again in Wichita as the the Santa Barbara Foresters won their ninth NBC World Series championship with a 14-2 win over Lonestar Baseball. Santa Barbara defended its 2020 title, the second time it has gone back-to-back (the first was 2011-12). The Foresters also overwhelmed Lonestar for the second time, racking up 15 hits after having defeated them 8-0 on Thursday in the semifinal. It was Santa Barbara’s 21st win in a row, a streak unmatched in team history.
UPDATED: The voting is over in Wichita, and the Foresters have chosen these teammates for postseason awards:
MVP: Andrew Kachel
EP 19 Pitcher of the Year: Ben Abram
Best Teammate: Kendall Pettis
Most Improved: Josh Stinson
Coaches Award: Max McGwire
As ace closer Nick Proctor wrapped up the game in the ninth and the ball settled into Max McGwire’s glove for the final out, the Foresters headed to the mound for the best part of the season—the dogpile for the champs! The team chased Proctor and tackled him next to the mound. The bullpen roared in, capped by the outfielders launching onto the top of the pile. Another championship, another dogpile, another summer of memories!
It was another dominating performance for the Foresters. Starters Ben Abram capped off one of the finest pitching seasons ever for a Forester, earning his seventh win with five innings of one-run ball. Another Foresters pitcher, Justin Eckhardt, was named the MVP of the entire tournament thanks to his 12 scoreless innings and two big wins on the mound.
The Foresters won the award at the top offensive team in the Series, batting .350. And they showed why in this game, as they backed up Abram with a pair of homers, by Seth Stevenson and Dylan Leach, along with a steady stream of timely hits.
Stevenson’s homer (pictured) led off the game for Santa Barbara before Lonestar tied it in the third.
The Foresters struck right back in the bottom if the inning. Dylan Campbell led off with a double and moved to third on a long fly ball. Tanner O’Tremba bounced out but the run scored to make it 2-1 Sters. In the bottom of the fourth, Andrew Kachel capped off a fantastic season with a no-doubt homer to deep right field. That was followed by a single from Nate Rombach and another by Leach. With runners on second and third, Josh Stinson knocked in arun with a sac fly.
The fifth inning was the crusher. The Foresters sent 12 men to the plate, had seven hits, and Lonestar had two errors. The Foresters scored six runs and the game was on ice. They added four runs in the latter innings, while just about every player got to take part in the championship game, a memory they’ll surely cherish.
After the dogpile was cleared up, manager Bill Pintard accepted the trophy for the ninth time as his team continued their celebration. In presenting the award, tournament director Kevin Jenks said that “the Foresters always bring class and grace to this tournament, and make it more valuable just by being here.”
Pintard saluted the Lonestars, the NBC staff, and the fans, while noting that his team had really rallied. “We were 14-7 at one time and our guys met and said, ‘coach, we got this.’ And they did. We won the next 21 in a row! Ster it up!”
In 2018, the Foresters won the title in the final game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. This summer, the tournament opened in new WindSurge Stadium…and the Foresters provided a nice bookend by winning the first NBC event there. The team now has titles in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 . . . And 2021. Nine…very fine.