By Jim Buckley
In a game dotted with oddities, in the end, it was the most normal of results: a 7-3 win by the Foresters over the Oaks on The Independent Night at Pershing park. A three-run seventh for Santa Barbara broke open a close game, and the Foresters added key insurance runs for the final margin.
As for the oddities, how often have you seen umpire’s interference? Or a 4-6 putout on a fly ball to right field? A run scoring on a strikeouts? Or having six straight runners reach base . . .but only two score? But that’s the joy of baseball; every time you come to the park, you never know what you’re going to see.
“I thought that this was the second game in a row that we played really well,” noted manager Bill Pintard. “We got critical hits in critical situations. Pinch-hitters came through, we stole bases, we walked more than we struck out. We had a lot of good swings on the ball all night.”
Tied 2-2 in the crucial seventh, the Foresters lived up to their dictum of “two-out hits win championships.” After Miguel Santos doubled, Kevin Bazzell doubled with two outs to give the Sters the lead 3-2. After Griffin Everitt was hit by a ptich, RBI machine Gavin Kash (pictured) smacked a two-run single to make it 5-2.
“I love seeing Kash come up with men on base, but our best hitter is No. 4, Bazzell,” said a pleased Pintard. “For the second night in a row, he had the go-ahead RBI. I can’t believe they pitch to him unless they have to; I’d walk him. He does some damage.”
Santa Barbara added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. One came on a sac fly by pinch-hitter Tanner O’Tremba, and the other scored when Dylan Campbell struck out, but the pitch eluded the catcher, allowing Santos to scamper home from third.
Amid all the strangeness was a decent start by Robert Cranz. The Sters righthander threw five innings of two-run ball, striking out seven and allowing only one hit, though he walked three and hit a batter. Luke Harrison made his Foresters debut and threw two scoreless innings.
Reaching the 2-2 tie after three took a little bit of doing. After giving up a run in the first on an error by Kade Higgins, the Foresters almost busted the game open as their first six batters reached base in the bottom of the inning. However, after doubling, Miguel Santos was picked off. Bazzell drove in Dylan Campbell for the Foresters’ first run. A few batters later, as Gavin Kash drove home Bazzell with run number two, Griffin Everitt was cut down at home plate on a strong throw by the leftfielder. It could have been more runs, but the first inning ended with the Sters on top 2-1.
After the Oaks tied it in the third after a leadoff walk scored on a double, the Foresters suffered through a weird fourth inning. Kade Higgins was hit by a pitch leading off. A short pop by Kyle Casper to right ended up dropping in, but Higgins had to wait and was thrown out at second. Then with Josh Stinson up, Casper attempted to steal. The catcher’s throw sailed into center but then the umpire waved off the play on a very rare “umpire’s interference” call. Apparently, Blue at home had inadvertently got in the way of the catcher while he threw, leading to the error. Waved back to first, Casper watched Stinson and Santos go out. A promising inning fizzled in the weird.
The ninth inning was a bit exciting, as the Oaks loaded the bases with one out. But Grant Stevens and then Chase Webster got big strikeout, before second baseman Austin Stracener made a run-saving, game-ending play moving to his right at second base to retire the side and end the game.
More excitement is in store—and you never know when you’ll see something you’ve never seen—when the Foresters are home on Friday at 6 pm vs the Arroyo Seco Saints. Tune in to AM 1290 or FM 96.9 to catch the action if you can’t be here in person.
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