By Jim Buckley. Photo by Kylie Koeper.
Foresters fans must have run out of K signs on Tuesday night. Starting pitcher Justin Campbell put together the best performance of the season for a Foresters pitcher, striking out an incredible 14 batters in just six innings, while allowing only a leadoff single. A pair of new bullpen arms—D.J. Contreras and Roman Angelo—added five more Ks, while the Santa Barbara offense did its usual great job. The combo led to a 13-0 win over the Bakersfield Braves.
“Justin was really outstanding tonight,” said manager Bill Pintard. “He was spotting all of his pitches, and he was very frugal with his pitches. It was all because of his location tonight, really the best we’ve seen him. He’s only 19, so imagine him in a couple of years, wow.”
Wow is right. Campbell struck out the side twice and at one point retired 14 straight Braves. The closest the Braves came to a run was in the seventh off Contreras. A leadoff double made it to third, but then Sters 3B Peyton Graham made a clutch diving stop that put the runner in a pickle and the Foresters completed the play for a big out. “I think D.J. should buy Peyton a burger tonight,” joked Pintard.
The offensive stars included the usual and the not-as-usual. SS Matthew McLain had his typical big game, going 4-for-6 with 3 RBI and a homer. Meanwhile, C Omar Veloz got one of his rare starts and made the most of it, leading the team with 4 RBI thanks to a single, a double, and a sac fly. A bonus was watching Nick Oakley come in to pinch-hit and promptly drive a two-run single to left field to break open a 4-0 game.
“Omar doesn’t get a lot of playing time, but he got a chance tonight and did a really great job, behind the plate and at bat,” added Pintard. “And Nick really put things away with that big pinch hit.”
Earlier, McLain had started the scoring in the first by legging out an infield hit; he came around to score on a Graham single. Graham then made Pershing Park into Peyton’s Place with his first homer of the summer in the third inning. Veloz had his first RBI in the sixth and then a Braves error made it 4-0. The Foresters did well to score that many against the Braves’ first two pitchers, both of whom are professionals in the minor leagues.
When they departed, Santa Barbara had its way with the Braves bullpen, scoring eight runs in the seventh, including Oakley’s two RBI. to put the game away. The other big blow as McLain’s fourth homer of the summer.
The Foresters continue their epic season series with the Santa Maria Pea Soup on Wednesday. Game time is, as usual, at 6 pm, on KCSB.org/sports.