By Jim Buckley (photo by Ed Bailey)
With an historic display of pitching brilliance, Foresters pitchers Ben Bybee and Robert Cranz combined for an 18-strikeout no-hitter as Santa Barbara beat the Denver Cougars 3-0 to advance to the semifinals of the 2023 NBC World Series. Bybee and Cranz were literally unhittable, crafting the second no-hitter of the summer for the ’Sters and the sixth all-time. The Foresters play Friday August 11 at 6:30 pm Santa Barbara time in the semifinals. The opponent? Longtime rival, the Seattle Studs—this will be the 10th meeting between the two at the NBC World Series. The Foresters won last year’s matchup, and have beaten the Studs in the national title game three times as well.
Bybee (pictured above) started and mowed down the Cougars with a powerful fastball. He struck out 10 and went to three balls on only three hitters and allowed only a fifth-inning walk. He then struck out the next five hitters in a row. Cranz took over in the seventh and retired all nine batters he faced, striking out eight, including the last six batters of the game.
The Foresters offense provided just enough to win, scoring single runs in the third and fourth. With runners on the corners in the third, Ryan Black did a delaye steal. Pitcher Austin Wagner—who struck out 10 Foresters on the day—threw away the ball toward second and Rylan Galvahn scored from third.
Max Balyeu led off the fourth with a double. Eamonn Lance singled him to third, and Will Rogers smacked a sac fly to center to score Balyeu.
In the eighth, Miguel Santos blasted a homer to left field, his second of the tournament, for a nice insurance run. In all the Foresters had only nine baserunners against Wagner, but Bybee and Cranz made sure the three runs stood up.
The Foresters had a no-hitter in the 2020 NBC World Series, with three pitchers chiming in. Sean Youngerman and Hunter Watkins combined for a no-no on July 20 against Arroyo Seco.
Tune in to AM 1290, listen online, and watch the NBC World Series YouTube channel for the semifinal game, coming up Friday afternoon, August 11. ‘Ster it up!