After taking over the top spot in the California Collegiate League North Division Wednesday night, the Santa Barbara Foresters dropped the Santa Paula Halos 7-1 to further extend their lead.
Entering Thursday night, the Foresters had struggled against the Halos during the 2013 season having lost three straight since beating them in the first meeting, 9-1 on June 6. The win made it 11 wins in their last 12 games, the only blemish a loss to the Halos on July 3.
However after a bit of small ball against Halo starter Justin Donatella, the Foresters broke out for four runs against the Halo bullpen in the final two innings.
A three-run eighth kicked off with a walk for Garrett Mattlage, who advanced to second on a single for the red hot Ryan O’Hearn. After a sacrifice bunt for Louie Lechich moved each man up 90 feet, Shane Hoelscher drove in one with a line drive single.
Justin Rahn took a walk to load the bases with just one out and Jerry McClanahan hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the second of the inning. Finally, Steven Reveles hit a two-out RBI single to push the score to 6-1.
A RBI groundout for O’Hearn in the ninth pushed the score to the eventual final of 7-1.
Santa Paula took a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a fair amount of luck against Forester starter Blake Fox. Two infield singles up the third baseline were followed up by a single ruled just fair, also down the third baseline, to score a run with two outs.
The Foresters finally evened up the score in the fourth, thanks to a double by O’Hearn to score Austin Darby from first, who had singled earlier in the inning. The first baseman finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Over his past six games, the Sam Houston State Bearkat is 13-for-23 with three home runs, nine runs scored, four doubles, nine RBIs and four walks.
Santa Barbara took the lead an inning later, as Rahn came home after Colt Atwood’s ground ball was bobbled by Halo shortstop John Brontsema. The 2-1 lead would be all the Foresters needed as Fox controlled the game following his unlucky first inning.
The Rice lefty finished his day after five innings and 85 pitches, having struck out four batters with six hits and two walks.
Halo first baseman Allen Gwynn committed two errors in the sixth inning, allowing men to reach first and third with no outs. Lechich drove in one with an RBI groundout as the Foresters’ small ball game propelled them further ahead. The RBI added to Lechich’s team-high 26 RBIs.
Nick Kern entered in the sixth to throw a scoreless inning and Tejay Antone followed up with two strikeouts in the seventh and one in the eighth as he threw two scoreless innings. Jace James pitched a scoreless ninth, walking and striking one apiece.