By Will Bashur
The Foresters were unable to overcome a six-run first inning barrage from the Barons, falling to the MLB Academy 7-6 on Tuesday night in Compton. Still, there was a ray of light as Santa Barbara clawed their way back to make it a one-run game in the eighth, but it was too little, too late.
Foresters starter Cole Quintanilla struggled to find his command out of the gate, throwing three straight balls before walking Trent Anderson on five pitches to begin the bottom of the first. Anderson quickly swiped second, and Channy Ortiz followed with a bloop single to drive in Anderson, giving the Barons a 1-0 lead in the blink of an eye. After a fielder’s choice, a walk, and a bunt single, Quintanilla found himself in a one-out, bases-loaded jam with Christian Lucio stepping up to the plate. Lucio hit a bases-clearing double that nearly left the park, suddenly putting the ’Sters in a 4-0 hole. The bleeding continued as Kendall Pettis hit his own ringing double off the left-field wall, driving in Lucio to extend the lead to 5-0. The disastrous inning continued when Quintanilla skipped a curveball to the backstop on what should have been a strikeout, allowing Pettis to trot home and put the Barons up 6-0.
Welcome to Compton.
But even with that dreadful start, the Foresters were determined to fight their way back.
Santa Barbara whipped up a rally in the second when Conor McKenna and Connor Pavolony reached on a hit-by-pitch and a single, putting runners on the corners with just one out. Jacob Katzfey then hit a grounder to third, giving McKenna enough time to run home and give the ’Sters their first run of the day, 6-1.
The comeback attempt resumed in the fourth with a one-out Pavolony walk. Katzfey followed with a hard opposite-field single, putting two runners on for an eager Tevin Tucker. Tucker delivered a soaring, two-out double that nearly scraped the clouds, driving in both Pavolony and Katzfey to cut the deficit to 6-3. Dru Baker then picked up his first RBI of the game with a soft single to right, scoring Tucker to get Santa Barbara a little closer. Eric Kennedy continued his fabulous summer with a rocket single, putting runners on the corners for Quentin Selma. Barons starter Noel Soto then threw an errant fastball on the first pitch of the at-bat, allowing Baker to score to make the score 6-5.
Having been shut out for three innings following their six-run outburst, the Academy’s bats were eager for some more scoring in the fifth.
The fifth started with an error and a walk, quickly putting runners on first and second with no outs. A passed ball allowed both runners to get into scoring position, placing Quintanilla in danger of another big inning with Ortiz coming to the plate. Ortiz then hit a sacrifice fly, giving the Barons another run and prompting Foresters manager Bill Pintard to make a call to the bullpen with the score 7-5. Conner Woods entered the game and retired two straight hitters, bailing out Quintanilla and quelling the threat.
Santa Barbara was kept quiet for three straight innings, but mounted another comeback effort in the eighth. Katzfey walked after Tucker lined out. Baker drew his own walk to put runners on first and second. After Barons reliever Sean Paquet threw a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position, Kennedy hit a sacrifice line drive, putting the ’Sters down by only one, 7-6.
Santa Barbara was looking for a walk-off to say goodbye to Compton for the summer, but they were instead sent home on twelve pitches from Paquet, who struck out the side with ease, sealing the 7-6 win for the Barons.
The Foresters will continue their four-game road trip tomorrow in Pasadena. Santa Barbara will be facing the Arroyo Seco Saints at 6 PM. Be sure to tune in to AM 1290 for all the action.