With rain falling and lightning flashing across the skyline behind the stadium, the Santa Barbara Foresters opened the 2013 NBC World Series with a three-hitter, 4-0 win against the Northwest Honkers.
As it has all season, the Foresters’ pitching led the way in the victory despite constant issues with the NBC pitching clock. A 20-second countdown between pitches, imposed to keep games as short as possible, caused Forester starter Parker French issues early on in the night.
Specifically, French found trouble in the fourth inning as the umpires struggled with the rule and Honker batters stepped in late to the box. Once the home plate umpire bounced between Foresters’ manager Bill Pintard and the Honker third base coach, French had a 2-0 count to the leadoff batter Travis Fox.
Fox hit an infield single and the throw by Garrett Mattlage went wide, allowing him to reach 2nd. After a wild pitch by French, the Honkers had a man standing at third with no outs. But French forced a groundout and struck out the next two to keep the game scoreless.
French finished his day after working out of a bases loaded, two-out situation with a liner right back into his glove. The Texas right-hander finished after seven innings with seven strikeouts, but five walks.
On the flip side, the Foresters offense struggled again Friday night. Honkers’ pitcher, 37-year J.D. Scholten, kept the Foresters down until a bit of unraveling in sixth.
A leadoff single for Mattlage turned into a man on second with one out after Joey Epperson’s sacrifice. Both Ryan O’Hearn and Shane Hoelscher were hit to load the bases in front of Jacob Felts. Felts promptly singled in Mattlage and Austin Darby followed up with a shallow fly ball to right, but O’Hearn slide around a tag to put the Foresters ahead 2-0.
Keaton Siomkin entered in the eighth for his relief appearance of the season. A nine-pitch eighth inning with one strikeout put the Honkers down quickly.
Santa Barbara tacked on some insurance in the eighth, as O’Hearn walked to leadoff the inning and Hoelscher laid down a bunt single up the first base line. Felts singled in another run to push the score to 3-0. Darby sacrificed men to 2nd and 3rd as he became the first out of the inning. Keaton Jones drove in another on a groundout to put the score at 4-0.
Hunter Lemke entered to close out the game in the ninth and despite a leadoff single, worked a scoreless inning to wrap up the victory.