By Jim Buckley
The Foresters probably ran to the bus to get out of Los Angeles after holding by their fingernails for a 3-2 win over the MLB Academy Barons. After taking a first-inning lead, Santa Barbara battled through a few moments of dramatic late action to win its third straight game and move to 5-3 overall.
The Foresters got things started early. Daniel Patterson led off with a walk, and Ryan Black, who later had three hits in the game, reached on an error that sent Patterson to third. When Black stole second, Patterson came home easily. A Will Rogers double then scored Black. After Rogers stole third, Max Belyeu continued his hot hitting with a run-scoring single.
Meanwhile, starter Gage Wood was having little trouble with the Barons. He threw four-plus innings, while allowing only five baserunners.
In the fifth, however, he did the first two men on, so Michael Lombardi came on in relief. After a walk to load the bases, a one-out wild pitch scored the Barons’ first run of the evening without benefit of a hit. Lombardi got another K, but then walked the bases loaded again, giving way to Zach Erdman, who promptly buried a curveball in the dirt that scored the second Barons run.
The Foresters had a chance to add to their lead in the seventh, but with runners on second and third, a ground ball to shortstop turned into a rare 6-2-5-4 double play to end the inning.
Next-up reliever Jaden Agassi and the Sters defense prevented another Barons run in the eighth. Agassi had struck out two in the seventh, but gave up a leadoff double in the next inning. Belyeu made a diving catch in right for the second out before shortstop Jalin Flores, making his SB debut after playing for Texas in the College World Series, snagged a sharp liner to end the inning. Flores also his first hit as a ’Sters, as did fellow first-gamer DH Eammon Lance.
The Foresters did get the leadoff man on in each of their final five innings (and seven of nine overall), but could not get any more runs, through a bit of bad luck, a few solid defensive plays, and a smidge of confused baserunning.
Sean Youngerman came on in the ninth to earn the save on a 1-2-3 inning.
The Foresters earn another day off Wednesday before starting a long four-game homestand on Thursday when they welcome the same Barons to Pershing Park. First pitch is 6 pm; if you can’t make it to the game, tune in on AM 1290 to listen to all the action.