With the result of Friday night’s game still undecided, the Santa Barbara Foresters and Conejo Oaks returned to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for the first of two and a half games this weekend.
Forester ace Drew Van Orden took the mound Saturday night, working into a bit of trouble early on in the first inning as the first two men reached base. Van Orden immediately rebounded by striking out the following three batters to avoid a run scoring.
Santa Barbara backed the Duke right-hander with a run in the second after Shane Hoelscher leadoff the inning with a triple. Austin Darby grounded out to follow up behind Hoelscher and drive him in for a 1-0 lead.
However, Van Orden could not get through the fourth and fifth unscathed as four runs, two earned, came home. An infield single and stolen base put an Oak at second with two outs, moving to third on a ground out. Nick Lovullo singled to drive in a run, tying the game at one.
The fifth came out much worse for Van Orden. A lead off single quickly turned into the bases loaded with no out after Van Orden committed two errors. An RBI groundout gave Conejo a 2-1 lead and a two out double by Brett Barbier drove two more home in Van Orden’s final inning.
Andrew Vasquez replaced Van Orden in the 6th, after he left with five innings pitched and six strikeouts.
The Foresters chipped a run off the lead in the bottom of the sixth after Vasquez worked a 1-2-3 inning. Colt Atwood and Garrett Mattlage each singled to leadoff the inning, with Atwood’s steal prior to Mattlage’s single allowing him to reach third.
Oaks’ pitcher Luke Eubank threw over to first to pick off Mattlage, but the ball went wild and Atwood scored on the error.
However, the Oaks tacked on two more in the seventh after Vasquez gave up a long home run to right by Cody Ramer. UCLA’s Nick Kern replaced Vasquez, who pitched an inning and a third, and struck out the first two batters he faced to end the inning. Kern continued the strong appearance with four more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 eighth and ninth innings.
The team’s continued to trade runs as Austin Darby doubled with one out and came home on a blooper by Keaton Jones in the bottom of the seventh inning, drawing the Foresters back within three. The lead was further cut to two in the eighth after Mattlage singled to lead off the inning and was replaced on the base paths by Epperson after a fielder’s choice.
O’Hearn singled Epperson over to third and Louie Lechich drove the run home on a sacrifice fly.
However, the Foresters could not put together a ninth inning rally to erase the final two runs as they were retired in order.