Wichita: On the night the Olympic torch was lit in Brazil, the Foresters had a pretty hot opening of their own at the 2016 NBC World Series. A four-run first inning sparked Santa Barbara to a 9-0 win over the Haysville Aviators in the first game of the tournament. Foresters third baseman Bret Boswell cracked a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to wrap up the scoring, giving the Foresters a “walk-off” win due to the tournament’s “mercy” rule.
With five RBI, Boswell was the hitting star. He started the Foresters’ scoring with a two-run double in the first inning that followed back-to-back walks to Matt Henderson and Kyle Isbel. Dylan Paul then drove Boswell in with a single on the first pitch he saw. After Paul stole second, new Foresters centerfielder Joe Moroney drove Paul in. Moroney joined Santa Barbara from the University of Kansas to replace the injured Evan Cassalotto. The newest ’Ster proved to be a great pickup, as he had three hits, a pair of stolen bases, and scored a run.
“We had big two-out hits early in the game, from Dylan Paul and Joe Moroney,” said manager Bill Pintard. “We ran the bases very well. Their pitcher [Denson Hull] was their star all year long, but we were patient and got great at-bats against him. Our guys were really locked in.”
On the mound for the Foresters, as he was in the opening game of the CCL playoffs last weekend, Kyle Johnston was dominant. He held the Aviators to only two hits in six innings. Johnston walked three, but struck out seven. Ryan Shetter took over for the seventh, and was scheduled to be the first of three Santa Barbara relievers, but Boswell ended proceedings early.
The Foresters got two runs in the fourth in large part thanks to great baserunning. Paul led off with a walk. Moroney moved him to third with a single. While catcher Steven Coe was at bat, Moroney took off for second, drawing a throw. Paul raced in from third to steal home. After Coe moved Moroney to third on a groundout, Hunter Stovall drove home the Foresters’ sixth run with a sacrifice fly to right.
The mercy rule came into effect in the seventh. As in the first, Henderson and Isbel led off with walks. Then Boswell launched his ninth homer of the season into the Kansas night, ending the game and handing the Foresters a key win.
Pintard and the team are happy to be back in familiar territory, this being the Foresters’ 24th visit to the NBC World Series. “It’s really great to be here,” he said. “We saw a lot of local fans rooting for us here. We’re visiting the hospital on Wednesday. It’s always a great experience for our players.”
The experience continues on Sunday as the Foresters face a team from Texas in game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 pm Santa Barbara time.