On Sunday, the Foresters once again got a superb performance from a pitcher from Texas, scored runs on clutch hits, and played perfect defense. The result was the same as earlier in the CCL playoffs, but this time, the 5-2 victory over Conejo also gave the Foresters the California Collegiate League championship.
Zach Esquivel retired the first 17 Oaks batters he faced. Tournament MVP Bret Boswell continued his torrid hitting by knocking in the Foresters first two runs with a second-inning double, and Hunter Williams and Tyler Adkison provided home run power.
“I’m so proud of this team and their effort,” said a beaming and ice-water-drenched manager Bill Pintard. “There was a time this season when some people had said this wasn’t our year, but this team got together and decided that that was not going to happen. They have really shown great spirit and leadership, and their outstanding play in this tournament shows how much they care about winning.”
Esquivel wound up allowing only four hits and a run in 6.2 innings, basically matching the previous playoff starts by Kyle Johnston and Connor Mayes. Together, that trio made up the entire CCL all-tournament pitching staff. In all, seven Foresters earned all-tournament mentions (see box).
“We had a great game plan and we stuck to it,” said a beaming Esquivel. “I made sure to keep the ball over the plate and my defense was just great behind me.”
While Esquivel silenced the Oaks’ bats, Santa Barbara gave him all the support he would need with a four-run third inning. With one out, centerfielder Matt Henderson singled and second baseman Travis Moniot reached on an error by the first baseman. During Boswell’s lengthy ensuing at-bat, the pair of baserunners advanced on a wild pitch. Finally, after fouling off five pitches, Boswell stroked a 3-2 pitch into left-center for a two-run double. Williams followed with a homer to left.
“This championship feels great,” Boswell said. “We’ve really worked hard as as a team and we really wanted to come out of here with the title. This is a great bunch of guys to play with.”
In the fourth, outfielder Tyler Adkison wrapped up the Santa Barbra scoring when he hammered the first pitch he saw for a home run.
In the seventh, when Esquivel finally ran into some trouble and allowed a run, Pintard looked to the Foresters’ deep bullpen for help. Tanner Lawson got out of that inning with no more damage, though he did give a homer in the eighth for the Oaks’ second run. Blake Smith shut down Conejo in the ninth for the save.
For the three games of the tournament, the Foresters’ pitchers were truly outstanding. Over 27 innings, the staff allowed 14 hits and two walks, while striking out 24. Foresters starting pitchers allowed a single earned run in three games.
Santa Barbara boards the bus for Wichita, Kansas, and the NBC World Series on Tuesday. Their first game will be on Friday, August 5, with a start time and opponent to be announced.
MVP: Bret Boswell, Foresters
P Kyle Johnston
P Connor Mayes
P Zach Esquivel
1B Hunter Williams
SS Bret Boswell
OF Matt Henderson
Def. C Steven Coe
2B Max Weinstein, Conejo
3B Kyle Sanchez, Conejo
OF Clayton Andrews, Neptune Beach
OF Ernie de la Trinidad, MLB Academy
OF Keyon Cullen, MLB Academy
OF Chad Bible, Conejo
DH Chad Spangenberg, Conejo
Def. Player Cody Den Beste, MLB Academy