By Will Bashur
‘Sters fans had plenty to celebrate on a bright and sunny Independence Day, as Santa Barbara defeated the visiting San Francisco Seals, 5-1. A Luke Ritter grand slam broke up a pitchers’ duel in the seventh, sending the huge crowd into cheers of delight. The largest crowd of the season flocked to Pershing Park to support their Foresters, and their raucous cheering–led by the Superfan–carried the ‘Sters to the victory.
The home crowd was a little quieter to begin the game, as Seals knuckleballer Alex Guerrero stymied the Foresters’ bats for six innings. Fully utilizing his repertoire of painfully slow pitches, Guerrero struck out five ‘Sters, and kept them leaning off-balance on their front feet.
Santa Barbara starter Bryce Elder countered Guerrero with his own solid outing, surrendering just one run over five strong innings. The Texas Longhorn was a bit shaky at first, as Seals batters smoked two singles and a double in the top of the first, quickly jumping to a 1-0 lead. But after the first, Elder found his groove, and struck out three batters over the next four innings to keep the deficit at one.
The Foresters’ bats finally awoke from their deep slumber when the soft-throwing Guerrero was pulled in the top of the seventh. Seals pitcher Riley Mallot entered the game in relief of Guerrero, and from the start had no control of his pitches. After a balk, two walks, a fielder’s choice, and a wild pitch, the bases were loaded for Santa Barbara slugger Luke Ritter. On a full count, Ritter blasted his grand slam over the left field fence, and the crow erupted in a deafening cheer as Ritter gave the ‘Sters a healthy 4-1 lead. The fireworks continued in the next inning, as John Jensen broke out of his slump with a towering solo home run, extending the lead to 5-1.
San Francisco’s offense had no answer for the Foresters’ power surge, and struggled to get anything going against Santa Barbara’s stalwart bullpen. Behind Conner Woods, Miles Sandum, and James Notary, the ‘Sters pen combined for six strikeouts over four innings of scoreless relief. Woods earned his first win of the summer, moving his record to 1-0, and Notary picked up his third save.
The Foresters will continue their home stand tomorrow in a CCL matchup against the Arroyo Seco Saints. Be sure to tune into 1290 AM for full coverage of the game.