Photo of Brett Standlee by Eric Isaacs
By Will Bashur
The Foresters showed no signs of slowing down as they wrapped up their final game before the All-Star break, winning a non-league matchup with the Orange County Surf, 7-2. The victory marked the 19th win at Pershing Park, and pushed Santa Barbara’s record to an exceptional 30-3 for the summer.
While the Foresters were in control for nearly the entire game, it was the Surf who struck first.
Leftfielder Ben McConnell began the game by drawing a walk off Santa Barbara starter Brett Standlee. Standlee quickly retired the next two Surf hitters, but ran into some trouble against the cleanup man, Hank Schineller. After Schineller worked the count full, he hit a fly ball to center fielder Kamron Fields, forcing Fields to sprint for what seemed like miles. When Fields finally got to the ball he was unable to make the difficult catch, allowing McConnell to score, giving the Surf a quick 1-0 advantage.
But Santa Barbara was even quicker to respond. Logan Allen started the bottom of the first with a line drive back up the middle. After Brandon Zaragoza popped out, Allen swiped second base with Luke Ritter in the batter’s box. Ritter drew a walk, putting two runners on base for John Jensen. On a 2-2 hit-and-run, Jensen struck out swinging as Allen and Ritter pulled off a double steal. The strategic play set up a big scoring opportunity for Michael Neustifter, who was still trying to ward off the knee injury that had been bothering him since Thursday. It appeared any lingering effects of the injury had subsided as Neustifter delivered with a two-run single. With his clutch hit, Santa Barbara retook the lead 2-1.
In the second, Fields smacked a double to deep left-center field. Turner Gauntt then moved Fields to third with a ground out, and Fields scored two pitches later when Surf pitcher Trevor Davis committed a costly error. Davis’s error extended Santa Barbara’s lead to 3-1.
Standlee settled in nicely after the first, and went on to throw four scoreless innings to earn the win. Orange County struggled to make consistent contact off Standlee, and only mustered two hits off the Oklahoma State righthander. Standlee had the Surf swinging through his pitches, as he struck out seven Surf hitters in his outing.
James Notary relieved Standlee in the fifth and threw two scoreless innings, punching out three more Surf batters, giving ‘Sters pitching 10 strike outs through six innings.
The Foresters offense wasn’t done having fun either. In the fifth, Neustifter drove in his second run of the day when he scored Ritter with a sacrifice fly to right. Santa Barbara added another three runs in the sixth when Ritter blasted a bases-clearing triple to the right-center gap. The triple increased Ritter’s team-leading RBI total to 31, and gave the ‘Sters a commanding 7-1 lead.
Nico O’Donnell pitched a scoreless seventh, and Bailey Reid followed him with a spotless eighth. Elliott Anderson entered the game in the ninth and struggled to find his command for a brief spell, as he surrendered a two-out bases-loaded walk to give the Surf their second run of the day. But after a relaxing mound visit, Anderson quickly retired the left fielder McConnell to close the book on Orange County.
The Foresters are entering a three-day break for the annual CCL Prospects Game, and will not play their next game until Thursday at the San Luis Obispo Blues. The CCL Prospects Game will take place on Wednesday at the MLB Academy in Compton. Santa Barbara will be well represented in Compton, with nine pitchers–Caleb Sloan, Jackson Wolf, Michael Hobbs, Hunter Breault, Elliott Anderson, Chase Wallace, Kamron Fields, James Notary, and Tanner Bibee–and five position players–Chase Illig, Conor Davis, Cameron Warren, Logan Allen, and Michael Neustifter–selected to the game. Coach Bill Pintard will manage the CCL Nationals in the game.
The Prospects Game will be shown on Fox Sports West beginning at 7 PM on Wednesday.