By Jim Buckley; photo by Eric Isaacs
For the third straight game, the Foresters “Kashed” in, riding the RBI power of first baseman Gavin Kash to an exciting 9-7 victory over the Arroyo Seco Saints on Thursday night. Kash was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored, pacing a 12-hit attack that needed every run against a scrappy Saints team that never seemed to stop battling. Up 9-3, the Foresters had to hold on as Arroyo Seco scored four late runs. But Nick “The Doctor” Proctor prescribed his vaunted Vitamin K and threw a perfect ninth to save the game.
The action started early, as Santa Barbara trailed 1-0 after the first pitch when Arroyo Seco’s Jordan Rogers went yard. But the Sters re-took the lead in their half of the inning. Kash got his first RBI on a single to center to score Miguel Santos, who had led off with a hit of his own. Later, Nate Rombach earned a bases-loaded walk. An unfortunate double play blunted what could have been a big rally.
After the Saints tied it in the third, Kash crushed a ball over the centerfield fence with Kevin Bazzell on base to make it 4-2. It was Kash’s team-best sixth homer of the summer and third straight game with a longball.
“People need to remember his name,” said manager Bill Pintard. “This kid can flat-out hit. He hits everything hard, even his outs. And he only strikes out about 11 percent of the time, a great number for a young hitter.”
Santos got his second hit to open the fourth and moved to third on an outfield error and a bunt by Rylan Charles. Of course who was up next? Kash, who hit a sac fly to left field for his fourth RBI of the evening.
In the fifth, the Foresters added another when Hunter Ensley doubled and, after a long, hard at-bat, Gianni Horvat tripled on a 3-2 pitch with two outs to make it 6-3. Horvat emotionally “Sterred it up” after sliding into third, sparking a great Thursday-night crowd. Santos then drove Horvat in with his third single of the evening.
The game-long offensive attack—the Sters had runners on in seven of eight innings—continued in the sixth. Kash got his third hit of his busy night, moved to second on a Rombach walk (his third), and scored the Foresters’ 8th run on a single by Tanner O’Tremba. The Sters DH then came in to score later in the inning on a rare wild pitch that eluded normally impregnable Saints catcher Cooper Harris. The inning ended with the Sters up 9-3.
Meanwhile, Foresters starter Brandon Beckel had his off-speed and breaking pitches working well. Through four innings, Beckel had five Ks, and only Rogers, with the homer and a second-inning, had reached base. But then a leadoff double in the fifth and a wild pitch led to a sac fly to make it 5-3 and chased Beckel. Luke Harrison took over, make quick work of the fifth, then threw a one-hit sixth. He was touched up for a pair of two-out runs in the seventh, however.
“I thought it was Beckel’s best performance of the year, he had both breaking pitches going well,” said Pintard.
But the Saints kept battling. Alec Grossman took over in the eighth while the plucky Saints kept chipping away. Back-to-back doubles greeted Grossman and it was 9-4. Ian Churchill came in to pitch and threw a wild pitch after a bunt had moved a runner to third and it was nervous time at Pershing as the Saints crept to within two at 9-7. But Churchill struck out two with a runner on third to blunt the rally.
In came Proctor and his almost-unhittable slider. He struck out two to earn his fourth save.
“I’m pretty zoned in, it’s just me and the catcher,” he said afterward. “All I see is him, I don’t see much around me. I see the signs and execute. It can be emotional, but you have to shut that all out.”
Winners of five straight, the Foresters hope to keep the ride going Friday night when they host OC Riptide at Pershing, first pitch is at 6 pm.