By Matt Mitchell
The Santa Barbara Foresters welcomed fans to their new ballpark with the best housewarming gift of all: a win.
A packed house of 300 fans filled the bleachers at Pershing Park to watch Santa Barbara (2-2) avenge Thursday’s loss by knocking off the Orange County Riptide 7-4 in the second game of a home-and-home series.
“It was really thrilling,” Foresters manager Bill Pintard said. “We had a great turnout, the stands were packed, standing-room only, and it was a beautiful night.”
Tanner Lawson (St. Edward’s University and member of the 2016 team), started on the mound for the Foresters and pitched six strong innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts.
Santa Barbara, however, needed more middle-inning heroics to separate themselves, which has seemingly become this team’s M.O. early this season. One of the team’s mottos is “two-out hits win championships.” And they lived that motto well on Friday. The Foresters drove in four two-out runs in the fifth inning on triples by third baseman Luke Ritter and left fielder John Jensen and a single by right fielder Ashton Easley to stretch their lead to 6-1.
“I hope this becomes a theme,” Pintard said. “Because if we keep getting two-out hits the way we did tonight, we’re going to win another championship.”
Pitchers Ty Wiest and Garrett Gayle came on in relief of Lawson and shut down the Riptide the rest of the way, allowing only one run on a pair of hits over the final three innings.
The Foresters will resume play at Pershing Park Saturday night at 6 p.m. as they take on the Long Beach Legends.