By Jim Buckley; photos by Ed Bailey and Kylie Koeper
Beginnings are important. The Foresters proved that with a four-run first inning that paved the way for a 13-3 mercy-rule victory over the San Diego Stars in Game 2 of the NBC World Series. The Foresters pounded out 16 hits, including seven for extra bases, in support of pitching by Parker Smith and Robert Cranz that allowed only a single earned run. Through two games in Kanas, the Foresters’ pitching ERA is 0.52. All that has helped the ’Sters clinch a berth in the quarterfinals on Thursday, though they have one more pool-play game on Tuesday.
Smith’s performance deserved the big backing. Moving to 6-0 on the season, he went six innings and allowed only a single earned run, while striking out six. The only real damage the Stars made was due to Foresters mistakes.
Santa Barbara’s big beginning came in the first. After Miguel Santos and Nate Rombach walked, Gavin Kash doubled both home. Kash then scored ahead of Hudson White’s homer to left field and before the Stars picked up their bats, it was 4-0 Sters.
San Diego got a couple of weird runs in their half of the second. After a single to left, Davin Burroughs of the Stars flared a ball to left that landed cleanly, but then eluded Hunter Ensley for a costly error. Brady Joslyn came all the way around from first to score. With Burroughs on third due to the error, he was balked home when Smith slipped on the rubber as he threw home. The ump said he stutter-stepped on the stumble, and an argument went nowhere.
The Stars added another in the next inning. Ethan White’s dribbler died on the grass between home and third and he moved up on a ground out. A double by Luke Arias made the score 4-3 Foresters. But that was it for San Diego. Smith and Cranz retired 14 of the final 15 Stars batters.
Meanwhile, the Foresters bats kept hammering. Dylan Campbell (main photo) tripled to lead off the fourth and came on a sac fly by Gianni Horvat. In the sixth, Blaine Jones led off with an infield single. After the Sters loaded the bases, Jones came in to score on Hunter Ensley’s sac fly, his third RBI in two games. Rombach led off the seventh with a big homer to make it 7-3.
Endings are important, too, and the Foresters put a bow on this game with a six-run eighth inning. Campbell led off with a homer. After Nick McLain singled, the Foresters put together three straight hits, and Kash sac fly (pictured) made it 9-3. After Hudson White was hit to load the bases with two outs, Blaine Jones, brought into the NBC lineup for his glove, showed he can hit, too, smoking a two-out, bases-clearing double to deep left centerfield to run the Sters lead to 13-3.
After Cranz retired the Stars 1-2-3 in the eighth, the mercy rule was invoked and the game was ended. The Foresters play Tuesday against the Denver Cougars at a time TBD in the final game of pool play. Tune in on AM 1290 and FM 96.9 or online at the KZSB web site; you can watch the action live as well on the NBC World Series YouTube Channel.