By Jim Buckley; photo by Eric Isaacs
“Pass the rope” is a longtime Foresters tradition. That’s the concept that no matter what happens, there’s always another Foresters player (or players) ready to jump on and pull the rope to help the team succeed. So when ace starting pitcher Parker Smith (pictured) struggled a bit early on Friday night, the rest of the ballclub picked up their clubs and had at it. A string of hits led to seven runs in the fourth inning, salting away a 10-6 win over the OC Riptide. It was the ’Sters sixth win in a row and 20th on the season.
Early on, Smith could not seem to locate his fastball with his usual unhittable precision, and the Riptide scored two in the second after leaving a man on third in the first. But he settled down and by the top of the fourth, had retired six in a row. That’s when his teammates went to work.
Santa Barbara had gotten one in the first on an unusual play. With Miguel Santos on third after his earlier double, Rylan Charles struck out, but the ball bounced away, allowing him to reach first and Santos to score.
Down 2-1, the floodgates opened on the ’Tide in the fourth. Griffin Everitt doubled and scored on Hunter Ensley’s single. After a bloop single by new ’Ster Hudson White, a double steal set up a run when the Tide pitcher couldn’t handle Gianni Horvat’s comebacker. Santos—continuing a 14-game hitting streak—then cracked a two-run, stand-up triple and all of a sudden it was 5-2. Charles knocked in Santos and then Gavin Kash’s sac fly brought home Charles. It was left to Nate Rombach to send a ball into orbit to cap the inning , which ended with the Foresters up by an insurmountable 8-2.
The Riptide did make it interesting in the fifth, with some help from the Foresters. An error on a double-play opportunity opened the door for OC to score four runs after they followed the play with three hits and a walk.
Santa Barbara added late insurance in the sixth when RBI machine Kash had another run-scoring single, followed by an Everitt sac fly.
Then it was the bullpen’s turn to pull the rope: Chase Webster, Nick Griffin, and Cole Reeves combined for five shutout innings to seal the win.
The Foresters have one more home game this weekend, Saturday against the MLB Academy Barons; first pitch is 6 pm. The final homestand of the season starts July 22.