Four Foresters pitchers combined to allow no earned runs and strike out nine Oaks, in Santa Barbara’s 5-1 win in the final home weekday game of the season on Thursday night.
The game got off to a rocky start for the ’Sters, with sparks flying after just one batter. Oaks leadoff man Jake Arledge launched a ball to the warning track in right field that seemed like it would clear the head of outfielder Lex Kaplan. However, Kaplan was able to make a fantastic catch, which should have recorded the first out of the ball game. Unfortunately, he dropped the ball on the transfer to throw the ball back in, and the umpires incorrectly ruled the batter safe. Like a flash, Manager Bill Pintard was out of the dugout at a dead sprint to protest the call, with no luck, and was subsequently ejected for only the second time this season.
From there though, the Foresters’ pitching more than took care of business. In one of the best starts by a ’Ster this season, Zach Esquivel threw six innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits and striking out six. Then a trio from the Foresters’ bullpen—Ryan Shetter, Max Gibbs, and Jackson Sigman—came in to close out the game. They allowed no earned runs and punched out three more Conejo batters. Gibbs was especially clutch, striking out slugger Chad Spanberger with the bases loaded.
The Foresters were very efficient at the plate, using only seven hits to put up their five run total. Matt Henderson and Hunter Williams lead Santa Barbara with identical stat lines, scoring one run and driving in a pair apiece, while each also got two hits. Overall, it was a quieter offensive night for Santa Barbara than normal, but they also took advantage of four walks and two errors provided by the Oaks.
Having won nine out of their last ten, the Foresters look to stay hot in their final series of the season. They will face their long time rivals, the San Luis Obispo Blues, with game one kicking off on Friday evening in SLO at 6:00 pm.—Matthew Selman