The Santa Barbara Foresters opened their final series of the year on Saturday with a 4-2 win over the rival San Luis Obispo Blues. The Foresters were paced by a strong outing from starter Glenn Otto. The Forester hurler struck out eight and only allowed two runs on four hits over his seven innings of work.
After falling behind by a run in the third, the ‘Sters were able to bounce back and tie it up. Left fielder Kaleb Denny started the bottom of the third with a booming double. He would advance to third on a groundout and come home to tie it up on a sacrifice fly by shortstop John Holland.
The fourth inning saw the ‘Sters take the lead, adding two more. Granger Studdard was hit by a pitch and came around to score on Tyler Neslony’s RBI triple, a rocket just out of the reach of the Blues’ outfielder. Troy Conyers would make sure Neslony scored as he ripped a single right back up the middle for the 3-1 lead.
The Blues would play some small ball for a run in the top of the fifth but the Foresters would answer back again, making it 4-2. John Holland would get the action going with a single and then come around to score on a double by David Greer. Greer continued his red-hot season, going 3-4 with the RBI.
The 4-2 score would hold up, but the rest of the game was not without drama. In the top of the eighth, Michael Smith made arguably the defensive play of the season when he jumped up the wall and robbed Dustin Williams of a sure home run. There was even more drama in the bottom of the inning for the ‘Sters. With Granger Studdard on first, Jeremy Montalbono hit a deep fly ball to center. The centerfielder appeared to make the catch and then drop the ball. Amid some confusion, Studdard returned to first. The umpires then huddled and called both Montalbano and Studdard out, saying Studdard didn’t re-touch second base returning to first. Coach Bill Pintard vehemently disagreed with the ruling, but it stood.
Closer Troy Cruz was able to work out of a second and third jam in the ninth to pick up the save and seal the Forester win. They will play the Blues again tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka stadium, in what will be their final home game before heading to the NBC playoffs in Wichita, Kansas to defend their national championship.
– Ryan Riffenburgh