by Nate Loop
It didn’t take long for the Foresters to put their Opening day struggles behind them. In their second game against the San Diego Waves today, sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, Manager Bill Pintard played small ball to great effect, and some solid pitching performances allowed the ‘Sters to put together a 6-3 victory.
Neither team wasted time in scoring, trading a run apiece in the first inning.
Waves’ shortstop Blake Balkan started the game with a single off of Forester’s starting pitcher Ian McCarthy. Balkan moved to second on a error by McCarthy, and a single by center fielder Joseph Daris allowed Balkan to score.
The Foresters came right back in the bottom of the inning. Shortstop Steven Reveles, who reached base all four times on opening day, continued his hot start by singling off of Waves lefthander Matt Stalcup. A sacrifice bunt by left fielder Richard Sanguinetti moved Reveles to second. Reveles continued his thievery and stole third base. Designated hitter Nick Melino hit a high bouncing chopper that Balkan couldn’t handle, and Reveles scored to tie the game at 1-1.
Forester’s first Baseman Kirby Bellow pulled a hamstring trying to make a play in the first inning, and Pintard found a replacement in the hulking form of Chris Koeper, a Forester Hall of Famer who took over first base for the team for the first time since 2002.
“I was super thrilled to be out there,” said Koeper. “I wasn’t even really nervous at all, it was more like ‘Hey, look at what I get to do!'”
After the flurry of activity in the first inning, both starters settled in to their grooves and the hits came few and far between for both teams, until the bottom of the fifth when Reveles sparked the Foresters again. He singled, stole second base, and then stole third base a batter later. A broken bat single by Roenicke allowed Reveles to complete the final 90 feet of his journey and cross home plate, putting the ‘Sters up 2-1.
The ‘Sters took the lead and never looked back, increasing their lead in the next couple of innings.
In the sixth, third baseman Nico Garcia drew a leadoff walk and then catcher Nick Davenport singled to put runners on first and second. Second baseman Grant Davis put down a good sacrifice bunt to move up Garcia and Davenport to second and third. Sanguinetti then hit weakly to the shortstop Balkan and beat out the throw for an infield single, allowing Garcia to score easily. Davenport, who had already moved to third, saw the throw going down to first base and raced to home plate, scoring to put the Foresters up 4-1.
Coach Bill Pintard elected to make a pitching change in the top of the 7th inning, with McCarthy making way for Sean Tracey, a former major leaguer who made several appearances for the Chicago White Sox back in 2006.
Tracey had pitched for the Foresters 10 years ago, and has struggled with several injuries in his baseball career. Pintard was happy to give Tracey a chance to play.
“He was told he would never pitch again, and he’s trying to make a comeback,” said Pintard. “He’s a great Forester, a guy who was really involved with Hugs for Cubs, so it was great.”
More runs came in the seventh inning, as right fielder Zach Fish led off and hit a line drive single and stole second base. Melino then drew a walk, and a sacrifice bunt by Koeper moved the runners to second and third base. A sac fly by Garcia allowed Fish to score and Melino to advance to third. Davenport then drove in Melino on a line drive single, giving the Foresters a 6-1 advantage.
There was a scary moment in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Waves outfielder Nathan Baird ran into Davis as he tried to make a play on a grounder. Both players eventually walked off the field to cheers from the supportive crowd. However, neither player returned to the game.
“He (Davis) went to the hospital, it looks like a concussion,” said Pintard.
The Waves managed to get two runs back in the eight inning to make the game 6-3. Tracey walked Balkan, and a ball four wild pitch to the next batter Daris advanced Balkan to third. A pickoff error by Tracey allowed Balkan to score and Daris to move to third. Tracey got the next batter Cody Lenahan to ground out, but Daris scored from third on the play.
Those would be last runs of the game as righthander Michael Kwan took the mound for the Foresters in the ninth, recording the save and securing the Forester’s first victory of the season.
Forester’s starter Ian McCarthy hadn’t pitched competitively in a year due to NCAA transfer rules forcing him to sit out, but delivered 6 solid innings for the ‘Sters, giving up only one earned run on four hits and three walks.
“He got in some jams, got behind early, then he found his rhythm a little bit, and we were glad to get six strong innings out of him,” said Pintard.
At the plate, Steven Reveles stood out for the Foresters, going 3-5, with two runs scored and three stolen bases.
The rubber match between the Foresters and Waves will be played tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.