By Taylor Jennings
The Foresters lost their first non-league game of the season Friday night as the visiting Ventura Pirates jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and held on for a one-run victory.
With runs tallied in five of the first 8 half innings and each team trading blows offensively, it initially appeared as if the Forester faithful would be in for a slug-fest at Pershing Park. Ultimately, the relief pitching was stellar on each side, and the 4-3 score after four proved to be all the scoring for the night.
The Pirates struck first in the top half of the 2nd thanks to a misplayed fly ball which resulted in a lead off double. Blake Mann’s RBI single plated the first run of the ballgame two batters later.
After the Foresters drew even on a Spencer Jones sac fly in their half, the Pirates broke through in a big way against ‘Sters’ starter Brett Walker in the 3rd. Some sloppy defensive play and timely Pirate hitting resulted in 3 more runs for the visitors. Kyle Soberano’s RBI double and Cole Kitchen’s 2-run single were the biggest blows in the frustrating half inning for Santa Barbara.
Now down 4-1, the Foresters answered in their half once again thanks to an RBI single from Christian Franklin. The center fielder made a real splash at Pershing with a lead off homer in his Foresters debut on Thursday, and he continued to win over the Santa Barbara crowd Friday night with stellar defensive play and his timely RBI.
An inning later, the Foresters experienced their best opportunity to break through against Pirates starter Jason Whaley. A Nick Bellafronto single and a pair of walks loaded the bases with nobody out. However, Whaley found a way out of the jam with a double play ball and ground out to only allow a run.
That was about it for Santa Barbara, who were shut down by Pirates reliever Deandrey Carter for the final 5 frames. Carter struck out 6 in 5 hitless innings; the righty retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced.
This was perhaps the most anemic offensive performance of the season for the Foresters, as they notched just 2 hits in the ballgame. A pair of errors and a few misplayed balls also hurt SB. In the end, the lone bright spot for the ‘Sters’ was stellar relief pitching from Larson Kiendrich and Kevin Larson. The two combined to strike out 9 and allowed just a hit in their 5 innings of work. Despite their best efforts to keep the game close, Santa Barbara ultimately could never break through to tie the game
Santa Barbara returns to Pershing Park tomorrow for a clash with a league rival in the Academy Barons. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00pm.