By Ryan Greenberg
IRVINE, CA – The Santa Barbara Foresters were on the wrong side of a dominant pitching performance on Sunday night, falling to the Orange County Riptide by a score of 5-1 on the road at Great Park in Irvine. While the Foresters are sure to rue several costly mistakes at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field, credit must be given to the Riptide, whose phenomenal pitching and defense stifled the Foresters’ offense all night long.
In stark contrast to Saturday’s contest between the two teams at Pershing Park, the Riptide jumped out to early offense in the bottom of the first inning. After both Nathan Cadena and Grady Morgan singled for the Riptide, Reese Chapman drew a walk to load the bases. Patrick Hackworth then unloaded a deep drive into the right field gap which drove in all three baserunners, the third of which came across home plate on a Max Belyeu throwing error, for a score of 3-0.
After several innings of lights-out pitching from both sides, the Foresters pulled one run back in the top of the sixth inning. With Jalin Flores and Belyeu both on base from singles, Eamonn Lance drove in Flores from third on a single of his own to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Riptide promptly responded in their half of the frame to regain their three-run lead. Nathan Cadena’s deep sacrifice fly scored Connor Clift from third; the potential for further damage was limited after a 9-3-5 putout gunned down Bryce Blaser trying to tag up from second to third.
The Riptide added one more insurance run in the eighth inning after a series of bobbled balls at first base from Lance allowed Cadena to drive in Clift from third on a single.
Austin Ledbetter began the game on the mound for the Foresters, but pitched just one inning after allowing three runs. Carson Turnquist was called into the game to begin the second inning, and finished his night after three scoreless innings, striking out seven. Zach Erdman would go another three innings on the mound for the Foresters, allowing one run. Jacob Hughes would finish the Foresters’ pitching staff’s night, going one inning and surrendering one unearned run.
Tyler Valdez got the start on the bump for the Riptide, and he was as good as advertised, going six innings and yielding just one run. His first three innings were simply electric, going nine up, nine down. The only Forester to get on base in his first plate appearance was Giannia Horvat, who was hit by a pitch. Horvat would then be gunned down by Clift attempting to steal second base during the next at-bat.
The Foresters began to figure Valdez out during his next three innings of work, getting at least one runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. However, the Foresters only scratched off one run to show for it, and Valdez’ relief was just as incredible. Curren Larson, Trevor Meisner, and Nolan George each pitched one scoreless inning in that order, with George striking out the side to close out the game.
The Foresters have the day off on Monday, then take on the Arroyo Seco Saints on the road at Jackie Robinson Field Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. The Foresters then return home to Pershing Park at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday to host the Ventura Pirates. All Foresters games can be heard live on 1290 AM radio; listen online or stream live via the Foresters’ website, www.sbforesters.org.