By Kian Karamdashti
The Foresters could not bounce back from a second inning meltdown, despite being given plenty of opportunities to close the gap, and they fell to the Conejo Oaks 8-5 on Saturday night.
The game started brightly for the ‘Sters, as a first inning Oaks’ error allowed Blake Hall to cross the plate, giving Santa Barbara a 1-0 lead at the end of the first. It also seemed like a bright start for starter Luke Taggart, who, coming off a solid last outing, got through the first frame without allowing a run.
However, Taggart ran into some trouble in the second as the Oaks blew open the game to make it 5-1. After two straight hits to start the second inning, a grounder to first baseman Quentin Selma was bobbled and then thrown away, allowing all runners to advance while scoring the Oaks’ first run. The Oaks would do more than take advantage after a flurry of hits to extend their lead. Taggart ended up with three earned runs, seven hits allowed, two strikeouts, and one walk in four innings
“We just didn’t get it done on the mound tonight,” said manager Bill Pintard. “That second inning we were leaving balls over the plate, not taking advantage of 0-2 counts, and we weren’t putting guys away. It happens and when we are thin we have to roll with it.”
After the Oaks tallied another run in the top of the fourth, the ‘Sters offense started to get going in the following innings after a Diego Harris RBI single, an error, a pair of sacrifice flies by Tevin Tucker and Connor McKenna made it a one run game at 6-5 by the end of the seventh.
However, missed opportunities would be the theme of the day as the ‘Sters would leave an excruciating 14 men on base in the game, The most notable moment came in the bottom of the fourth as the ‘Sters were unable to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation. The ‘Sters also left two runners on in the third, seventh, and eight innings
“We had our chances. Not one, we had multiple chances to win this ball game,” said Pintard. “We get a hit here or there, and we win this ballgame. We have to pick up those runners. End of the day, we had a chance to win this ballgame and we didn’t get it done. On a positive we didn’t strike out a lot, only six strikeouts on offense. We hit some balls really hard and got some unlucky double plays. We didn’t stop competing. That’s baseball. Their pitching didn’t dominant us tonight and we just didn’t get it done.”
With a one-run game heading into the final frames, it seemed as if the Sters’ were on track to complete the comeback. However, the Oaks were able to tally two more insurance runs in the top of the eighth, deflating the hopes of a Forester comeback.
“That killed us in the eighth. We didn’t execute on one pitch and it got us,” said Pintard.
The Foresters complete their weekend homestand tomorrow against the Orange Country Riptide at Pershing Park; first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm on AM 1290.