Coming off a win against the rival San Luis Obispo Blues, the Santa Barbara Foresters tried continued their ascent up the California Collegiate League North Division, but the Conejo Oaks had other plans.
The Oaks took a 5-3 win Thursday night at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at UCSB, as the Foresters again struggled to hit in pressure situations and their pitching staff couldn’t carry them the same way they did a night ago.
Austen Williams started his first home game of the season, working through the first two innings with little issue. However, the third inning presented some trouble as the Oaks pushed two across to take an early 2-0 lead.
After striking out the leadoff man, Williams walked Kevin Minjaris followed by a Cody Ramer single. Tim Ginther singled in one run and with two outs Mitchell Tolman doubled in the second run of the inning.
The Foresters responded with their own run in the third after a leadoff bunt single by Steven Reveles. After Colt Atwood replaced Reveles by way of a fielder’s choice and stole second, Garrett Mattlage doubled over the left fielder’s head.
Williams worked into more trouble in the fourth, with two more coming across in the inning. A single to left resulted in a man on second after Joey Epperson kicked the ball when trying to field the ball. Ivan Vela sacrificed over the runner to third, and Jean Ramirez promptly singled in the first run of the inning. Two more singles pushed in another and the Oaks took a 4-1 lead.
Even more trouble arose in the sixth, as Williams left after allowing a one-out single and was replaced by Justin Rahn. The Oaks greeted Rahn with a bunt single and another single to score a run, credited to Williams.
With five and a third innings pitched, Williams departed trailing 5-1 and on the hook for the loss.
Looking to climb back into striking distance, Epperson led off the sixth for the Foresters with a single. With one out, Epperson stole second and came around to score on a two-out single by Shane Hoelscher to make the score 5-2.
Willie Kuhl entered in the seventh, striking out two and continued his work in the eighth by striking out the side, finishing the game with five strikeouts and pitching two and a third inning.
The Foresters tried again to try to even the score, but came up short in the seventh inning. Hunter Kopycinski singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice. Reveles singled, and Atwood followed with his own singled to score Kopycinski. However, the inning died off from there, as Epperson flied out and after Mattlage walked to load the bases, Jerry McClanahan flew out to end the inning.