By Jim Buckley (photo by Kylie Koeper): Guts? Check. In a super-tight game with first place in the CCL South on the line, the Foresters showed a packed house that they could squeak out the close ones, riding superb pitching, solid defense, and just enough offense for a 1-0 victory over the Arroyo Seco Saints Saturday night.
“We need a gut-check out there once in a while,” said manager Bill Pintard. “You’re out there and can’t make a mistake in a close game like that. We couldn’t make one bad pitch. And we managed to get it done.”
Foresters starter Justin Eckhardt was superb, facing the minimum through five innings. He walked a batter in the second, but that was erased with a nifty 4-6-3. He gave up his first hit in the fifth, but then promptly picked the runner off first. He finished up allowing only two hits and two walks in seven innings, while striking out five in one of the summer’s premier pitching performances.
When he left the job to his bullpen, they came through. Ian Churchill and Nick Proctor kept the Saints from scoring, while also striking out three. The Saints did get two runners on in the ninth, but Proctor struck out the side to close out the game.
The only run came in the seventh inning. After Eckhardt had finished his outstanding outing, his teammates gave him the run he needed to earn the win, too. Jared Thomas led off with a double, the first (and it would turn out, only) extra-base hit of the game for Santa Barbara. Tanner O’Tremba walked. Ethan Bates singled, but not deep enough to score a run. Bases loaded! After a strikeout, Seth Stephenson worked the game-deciding walk to score Thomas with the only run.
Churchill and Proctor did their job and the Foresters ended Montecito Bank & Trust Night in first place alone in the CCL South. They’ll try to stay there Sunday with a 2 pm game at Pershing Park against the Conejo Oaks.