By Jim Buckley
A spate of wild pitching by the Conejo Oaks broke open a close game, and the Foresters scored seven runs in the third inning to lead to a 10-2 romp on Opening Day. Foresters pitchers struck out 18 Oaks while allowing only four hits. Third baseman Kevin Bazzell was the hitting star for the ’Sters, going 3-for-5 with 2 RBI, throwing in one of the night’s Web Gems to boot on a diving stop to his left.
A great Opening Day crowd had barely settled into their seats after watching members of the 2021 Foresters team present the National Championship banner before it was 2-1 Santa Barbara. Foresters starter Parker Smith had struck out the side in the first, but a run came across via a wild pitch. His teammates had his back in the bottom of the inning. LF Rylan Charles led off the game with a single, and SS Will Pendergrass followed with a double to left-center. Bazzell’s single then brought Charles. Two outs later, RF Pat Caulfield drove in Pendergrass to give Santa Barbara the lead.
It was deja vu in the top of the third. Smith struck out the side—he ended up with 10 Ks on the night—but a leadoff walk ended up scoring to tie the score. Then came the fateful bottom of the third. Catcher Griffin Everitt was hit in the head leading off; it was a scary moment, but he was okay. After a single by 1B Nate Rombach, Foresters batters worked four straight walks. Pendergrass had a two-RBI double, and by the time the dust had settled, the Foresters had pushed seven runs across. Bazzell got his second RBI in the seventh, as Charles scored his second run.
Andrew Dusablon took over on the hill for Smith and had 4 Ks of his own in three scoreless innings. Jacob Martinez wrapped things up, including a three-K eighth inning.
With their record even a 1-1, the Foresters host the OC Riptide on Saturday at 6 pm at Pershing Park. Fans can also listen in on AM 1290, KZSB.