by Nate Loop
This late in the season, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in what other teams are doing. The Foresters realized they needed a win in order to keep pace with the San Luis Obispo Blues in the CCL race, as the Blues beat the Conejo Oaks earlier in the afternoon. The team responded to the news with a solid victory in their own right, beating the Los Angeles Brewers handily by a score of 7-4.
The Brewers brought out their workhorse Garret Kraemer to the mound to face off against hard throwing Nick Palewicz, the Sters stalwart out of the Univeristy of Washington.
The Sters opened their scoring account right away, with Ryan O’Hearn singling in Arby Fields, who had led-off the game with a double.
Palewicz, who showed no signs of trouble in the first inning, unraveled in the second inning, giving up four runs. He gave up three singles in a row to load the bases with no outs. A fourth consecutive single by Blake Thomsen tied the game at one run, and Palewicz was on the ropes early.
He then got the next two Brewers to go down on strikes, and looked like he might escape the inning with minimal damage. But Brewers lead-off hitter Morgan Micken dashed any of those hopes, as he hit a bases clearing double to the wall in left center to give his team an early 4-1 lead.
The good vibrations for the home team were short lived, however, as the Sters came back with three runs of their own in the top of the third inning. Robert Vickers hit a one out single to score Richard Sanguinetti and move O’Hearn to third. After a sacrifice bunt by Austin Davidson to move the runners over, Cal Vogelsang came up with in the pressure situation, two outs, down by two, with two runners on. Vogelsang managed to bloop a 1-2 fastball from Kraemer into shallow right field and score Vickers and O”Hearn, tying the game up for the Sters.
Palewicz’ rocky second inning turned out to be just a blip on the radar screen, as he regained his form and shut the Brewers down over the next three innings. Manager Bill Pintard then turned to his bullpen in the sixth inning with the game tied at four runs apiece.
The relievers responded mightily, as Jose Cardona, Albert Minnis, T.J.McGreevey, and Hunter Lemke each tossed a scoreless inning to back up their offense.
The Forester broke the deadlock with two runs in the seventh inning. Richy Pedroza went to first on a one-out walk from Kraemer. Richard Sanguinetti then crushed a pitch into the gap in left-center, and Pedroza got on his horse, galloping around the basepaths. He made the final turn around third towards home plate just as the throw reached the cutoff man, shorstop Michael Hill.
Hill then turned and fired towards home, and the ball reached catcher Blake Davey, positioned in the right-hander’s batter box, a split-second before Pedroza’s helmet reached Davey’s chestplate. The collision sent Pedroza sprawling off to the side of home plate, and he would have been out had Davey been able to hold onto the ball. Pedroza then scrambled to touch home plate safely, and the go ahead run was scored.
Davidson singled in O’Hearn later that same inning, this time against Brewers relieve Chad Rieser.
The Foresters added an insurance run in the top of the eight inning to go up 7-4, and Lemke made sure the final chapter of the game was a short one, earning his seventh save of the season and clinching victory in the ninth.
Cardona picked up the victory for the Sters, his first of the season.
With the San Luis Obispo Blues winning earlier in the day, the Sters (26-14, 16-10) remained 1.5 games back in the race for the California Collegiate League title. The Foresters have just four league games remaining this season, the finale of this three game series against the Brewers (Sunday afternoon, 1p.m.) and then three games next week at home against Team Vegas.
The winner of the CCL will go to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Witchita, Kansas. The Foresters already have an automatic bid in the tournament as they are last year’s defending champions.