For nearly two decades, one of the mantras of the Foresters has been “two-out hits win championships.” On Thursday, a two-out, two-run, seventh-inning double by shortstop John Holland broke up a scoreless duel between the ’Sters and the Pearl. Santa Barbara added three more in the eighth (with two of those runs coming with, you guessed it, two outs) and completed a 5-0 shutout. That game followed the Foresters’ first loss of the season, a 7-4 defeat in the early game of the day, which was a makeup following Tuesday’s historic rainout.
In the second-game win, starting pitcher Willy Amador (pictured above with Sters radio voice Gerry Fall) made his Foresters debut an auspicious one, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing only four hits while striking out six. His teammates were equally baffled by Pearl starter Johnathon Tripp, but broke through in the bottom of the seventh when Holland drove a ball over the centerfielder’s head, scoring Troy Conyers and Kaleb Denny.
In the eighth, centerfielder Ryan Chandler continued his hot play (he has now scored at least once in three straight games and had three steals on Thursday alone). After singling, he stole second and then third before scoring on a wild pitch. He evaded the catcher’s tag with a perfect slide to make it 3-0.
The Foresters’ fourth run brought the dugout to its feet. Conyers was on first with two outs—there we go again—when Denny drove a ball to right-center. Conyers never stopped and chugged toward third. The throw from the outfield hit the big first baseman on the foot and he scored when the ball went into the Foresters’ dugout. Conyers’ teammates poured out to welcome the big man and praise his hustle. Denny then scored the Foresters’ final run on a triple by Lex Kaplan.
After Amador wrapped up his seven innings of stellar work, Parker Joe Robinson and Dalton Brown each pitched a clean inning with a strikeout apiece.
The 5-0 nightcap wiped away the bad taste of the earlier game, in which Foresters starter Tylor Megill gave up a pair of two-run homers, while he and two relievers combined to walk 13 Pearl batters. The Foresters actually outhit Neptune Beach in the game, 9 to 5, but the bases on balls gave the Pearl too many chances. Neptune’s starter Brendan King got the win, going 5 2/3 and allowing only two runs on RBI singles by Jeremy Montalbano and Tyler Neslony. Santa Barbara added a pair in the bottom of the ninth but it was too little, too late.
When the long day was over, the Foresters’ record stood at 8-1 and 3-1 in CCL play. The team hits the road for the first time this season on Friday, starting a three-game series against the Southern California Catch. Listen to all the action on AM 1290 KZSB or tune in via newspress.com.