In a battle for first place in the California Collegiate League North, the Santa Barbara Foresters and the San Luis Obispo Blues battled back and forth until the Sters took control of the game with an eight run sixth inning to win 13-5 on a warm, sunny afternoon in Santa Barbara. The win went to Tejay Antone from Texas Christian University, his fourth of the season, tying him for second on the team. Santa Barbara has now defeated San Luis Obispo the last five times they have played.
The Foresters took little time getting to the Blues’ starter John Marc Shelly, as Colt Atwood was sacrificed to second after being hit by a pitch and was then batted in by Joey Epperson. After a walk to Ben Johnson, Louie Lechich hit a hard double down the left field line to score Epperson. Johnson was able to score as well after the throw in by Sean Ullrich went over the third baseman’s head.
The Blues responded with a couple runs in the top of the third inning, both coming with two outs. The rally was started when a slider by Sters’ starter Blake Fox didn’t break and hit Will Maddox in the back. After a wild pitch, Blake Allemand singled in SLO’s first run, and he was quickly sent to the plate after Aaron Attaway singled to center. The Sters were able to escape any further damage as Michael Pritchard grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The action continued in the bottom half of the third, as Johnson walked and scored on a double by Lechich. He was promptly picked off second, but dodged the tag in the rundown and made it safely to third base. Unfortunately, Blues pitcher Shelly was injured on the play attempting to get Lechich as he spun away. Shane Hoelscher doubled in the second run of the inning off of reliever Andrew Lee to give Santa Barbara a 5-2 lead.
After the Blues pushed across a run in the fifth, the Sters rivals from up north tied the game in top of the sixth inning with some small ball. After a single and a walk, Jimmy Allen sacrificed the runners over with a bunt and Daniel Garner hit a single to center to make the score 5-5, taking Fox off the record for a potential win.
Just like the third inning, the Foresters batters backed up their pitching staff by scoring some runs of their own, but this time the rally didn’t end until the Sters had scored eight runs to put the game out of reach. Darby, Garrett Mattlage, and Epperson loaded the bases leading off the inning for the Sters’ big bat, Ryan O’Hearn. A wild pitch scored the first run before O’Hearn was able to get a RBI with his walk. Johnson followed up with a RBI walk, Lechich singled in two, and Hoelscher got his third hit of the day with a single to center to make the score 10-5 before any outs had been recorded. Three more runs were piled on by Santa Barbara, highlighted by Austin Darby’s triple.
Justin Rahn and Austen Williams got some work in to finish off the game. Rahn, a southpaw from UCSD, pitched a couple scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth before Williams retired the side in order to finish off the Blues in the ninth.
Fronting the offensive onslaught for the Sters were Louie Lechich and Shane Hoelscher, who both went three for five, doubled twice and drove in three runs.
The win gives the Foresters sole possession of first place in the CCL North at 29-11-1 overall and 18-11 in league play. Santa Barbara looks to continue their modest three game winning streak as they take on the Conejo Oaks tomorrow evening in Thousand Oaks.