By Matt Mitchell
I guess that’s why they call it the blues.
Santa Barbara lost in devastating fashion Wednesday night, as the San Luis Obispo Blues sent the Foresters home with a 5-4 walk-off defeat. The Foresters (27-11) have now lost back-back games after having their 11-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night at Arroyo Seco.
The Foresters had the game well within hand for most of the night. Starter Daniel Vasquez pitched another gem for Santa Barbra, tossing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and only one walk.
Vasquez was aided by a Foresters offense that did most of its damage early. Josh Jung hit an RBI single in the first inning to give Santa Barbara the first run of the game. After the Blues answered in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run to tie it, David Clawson hit an RBI single, followed a sac fly from Steven Coe to make it 3-1.
Vasquez then cruised through the rest of his outing, pitching 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, fifth, and sixth innings. Along the way, the Foresters provided Vasquez another run of support by way of an Austin Todd sac fly in the fifth.
Todd finished the game a pair of hits and an RBI, going 2-4. Todd was one of three Foresters with multiple hits for the game. Joining him were the hot-hitting Jung, and Coe, who continued his stellar play behind the plate, with a pair of hits each.
With Vasquez’ day done, Kyle Smith came on to pitch in the seventh inning. Smith allowed a single but not further damage. Looking to build on a solid inning, manger Bill Pintard sent Smith back out for the eighth. Smith allowed a leadoff walk but followed with a strikeout before Nathan Wiles relieved him. Wiles then got a pair of quick outs to send the game to the ninth.
With a 3-run lead and the reliable Garrett Gayle coming in to pitch, the bottom of the ninth seemed like a mere formality. It appears San Luis Obispo didn’t get the memo.
The Blues quickly got runners on first and second with a pair of singles to leadoff the inning. A grounder up the middle then passed right between Hank LaForte and Jimmy Galusky, at second base and shortstop, respectively, to cut the lead to 4-2. San Luis Obispo scored another run on another single to make it 4-3, then the tying run came home on a wild pitch.
With one out and a runner on third base, the Blues’ Tate Samuelson drove a ball into right field that went just over Even Lee’s head, though it would have been deep enough to score the winning run even had it been caught. Just like that, the game was over, and the Foresters, almost inconceivably, walked off the field in defeat.
Santa Barbara will have a chance to turn things around in a hurry, as the Foresters are back in action tomorrow night for their final home stand of the summer. First pitch will be at 6 p.m. as they take on the OC Riptide.