By Will Bashur
The Forester pitching staff continued to flaunt their dominance Sunday afternoon, as they silenced the Academy Barons’ bats to secure a 6-3 victory in Compton. Brooks Fuller, Jacob Burton, Caden Monke, and Brad Demco combined to punch out eight Barons over eight shutout innings. The win was Santa Barbara’s fourth straight over the Barons, and cemented their status as the team to beat in the CCL.
Santa Barbara’s offense also found a groove early, tacking on runs in all of the first three innings. After Ross Cadena and Christian Franklin drew walks, third baseman Nick Bellafronto hit a towering double that rattled against the wall, giving the ’Sters a 1-0 lead in the first.
The offense continued to rake in the second, as Connor Pavolony and Tevin Tucker knocked singles to put runners on the corners with just one out. Barons starter Brandon Mitchell then threw an errant pitch to the backstop, allowing Pavolony to score and giving Santa Barbara a 2-0 cushion.
The Foresters scored their third run in the third as Mitchell began to unravel. Franklin drew another walk to start the inning, and Bellafronto and Blake Hall followed with a single and hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Zach Presno then coaxed a four-pitch walk out of Mitchell, increasing the Foresters’ advantage to 3-0.
While the Foresters’ bats were creating havoc for the Academy’s pitchers, Santa Barbara starter Brooks Fuller was dealing.
The Auburn southpaw started the game with three perfect innings, and didn’t allow a baserunner until Baisel Williams Jr. reached on a Tucker error in the fourth. Fuller would go on to allow just one hit over four scoreless innings. Arkansas studs Jacob Burton and Caden Monke would carry the baton from there, combining to strike out four Barons over another three scoreless frames.
Santa Barbara was gifted another run in the seventh when Barons shortstop Masai Dorsey whiffed on a routine ground ball. The defensive blunder allowed Franklin, who had just a hit a booming triple, to stroll on home and put the Foresters up 4-0.
In the eighth, Forester reliever Brad Demco continued his near-perfect start to the summer campaign, striking out the side to preserve the shutout.
The ’Sters were able to add two more insurance runs in the ninth due to an error committed by Williams Jr. and three straight singles from Presno, Pavolony, and Conor McKenna.
The Barons offense finally came alive in the ninth, as Logan Pollack and Benjamin Donnerson drew walks off Conner Woods to start the inning. Allante Hall then poked an opposite field single into right, and Kyle Freeman hit a sacrifice fly, pulling the Barons within four, 6-2. Hall soon scored after Blake Hall airmailed a cutoff throw following a fly out, cutting the Foresters’ lead to 6-3. Channy Ortiz looked to continue the rally for the Academy, but flew out to center instead, closing the book on the Barons’ comeback attempt.
Santa Barbara will be back in action on Tuesday at the Conejo Oaks. Be sure to tune into AM 1290 at 4:30 PM to catch every pitch.