By Jim Buckley
Well, it had to happen sometime. After four dominating wins, the Foresters found themselves in a bit of a battle on Sunday. For the first time, the 2020 ’Sters fell behind, giving up more runs in the game’s first seven innings than in the season’s first 36. They could not rally and lost 8-5 to the SoCal Halos.
Santa Barbara had led 4-3 after six, but a four-run seventh by the Halos proved a mountain to big to climb, as reliever Jake Harrell struggled in the fateful frame. SoCal’s Tanner Faitro used a single, a wild pitch, and a passed ball to make it to third, and he scored on Brock Mortenson’s single to left. A Jayden Fein triple put the Halos on top 5-4, the first time all season the Foresters had trailed. A two-run homer by Willie Barcena scored Fein and made the score 7-4.
The Sters scratched one run back in the bottom of the seventh. Matthew McLain reached on an error and then made it around to third before scoring on a passed ball to make it 7-5. Byt SoCal padded its lead in the eighth, thanks partly to an exceedingly rare error by CF Christian Franklin that allowed a batter to reach third. That runner scored on yet another wild pitch.
The game had been going Santa Barbara’s way before that. After each team scored early, the game was 1-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, LF Nick Oakley walked and stole second. He scored when the rightfielder misplayed SS Matthew McLain’s drive for an error. The Foresters pressed their advantage when RF Pat Caulfield smacked a single to score McLain. After Caulfield stole his sixth base of the young season, CF Christian Franklin came up with the ’Sters third straight two-out hit to make it 4-1.
SoCal tightened the score by putting up two runs in the sixth on just one hit, but it could have been worse. A pair of walks and a single loaded the bases. Then a walk and a passed ball pulled the Halos to within one at 4-3. Spencer Jones struck out Brandon Reyes with two out to squelch that rally—but another lay ahead in the seventh.
Santa Barbara will enjoy a day off Monday before welcoming the Texas Express in for a four-day, five-game visit. Catch all the action online at KCSB.org/sports or via the Livestream accessible via the Foresters’ Web site. A special thanks to our fans, by the way, for helping us make this season possible by not coming to Pershing; your cooperation is GREATLY appreciated! ‘Ster it up!