By Ryan Greenberg
SANTA BARBARA, CA — First inning fireworks at the plate and a stellar pitching debut helped the Santa Barbara Foresters take care of business Wednesday against the visiting Coastal Dodgers. In Conner Woods’ season debut for the Foresters, he pitched through six innings and earned the win with the support of two home runs and aggressive baserunning from his teammates. Wednesday’s matchup between the Foresters and Dodgers lasted only seven innings due to the game being outside of CCL league play.
In Woods’ first inning of work, he retired the side in short order thanks in part to an electric inning-ending 6-4-3 double play from Dane Dawson to Gianni Horvat to Dominic Hellman. In the bottom half of the frame, Greg Pace crushed a solo home run in just the Foresters’ second at-bat of the game to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Rocco Garza-Gongora, after reaching on a walk, channeled his inner-Elly De La Cruz by stealing second, third, and home. After stealing second and third rather routinely, Garza-Gongora took off for home on a double steal right after Dodgers’ catcher Owen Estabrook threw down to second base in a failed attempt to throw out the stealing Rylan Galvan. Ryan Black then smoked the Foresters’ second home run of the inning, also driving in Galvan for a 4-0 lead.
The Dodgers stole a play out of the Foresters’ playbook in the third inning to score their first run of the game. With runners at the corners, the Dodgers executed the same double steal play that earned the Foresters their second run of the game. As soon as Jake Koeper threw down to Braden McCoy, who took off from first to second, Anthony Cannavino dashed home from third and scored the Dodgers’ first run of the game without a play to cut the Foresters’ lead to 4-1.
The Foresters added two insurance runs in the fourth inning to expand their lead to 6-1. Garza- Gongora’s RBI single drove in Pace from second base for the first run of the inning, and Garza-Gongora himself would come around to score after Dodgers’ shortstop Jeremy Camarena failed to field Galvan’s hard-hit grounder.
The Dodgers would claw back within striking distance in the fifth inning thanks to two two-baggers. McCoy’s RBI double drove in Cannavino for the inning’s first run, and McCoy would be driven in by Nabarro on another RBI double to make the score 6-3 in favor of the Foresters. The three runs would be all the Dodgers would be able to muster, however, as the remainder of the game finished scoreless for a Foresters win.
Woods finished his season debut with six innings pitched, three runs allowed and a win. Daniel Patterson, after starting the evening at designated hitter, was called upon to close out the game on the mound by head coach Bill Pintard. Patterson retired the side in short order, striking out two and earning the save. Austin Taylor started the game on the mound for the Dodgers, going 3 ⅔ innings pitched and surrendering six runs, five of them earned, and was charged with Wednesday’s loss. Bradley Waite pitched the final 2 ⅓ innings for the Dodgers, striking out in a scoreless performance.
The Foresters host the Conejo Oaks at home Thursday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. The Foresters can clinch the CCL South Division title with a win. All Foresters games can be heard live on 1290 AM radio; listen online or stream live via the Foresters’ website, www.sbforesters.org.