By Jack Kennedy
There’s a long Foresters tradition: When the bullpen door opens, the game is probably over. On Thursday night, Santa Barbara’s men from the ’pen continued that tradition, shutting down the Academy Barons on only one run in the final five innings to preserve a 4-1 win. Starter Robert Cranz (pictured in his Wichita State guise) was even better, throwing four shutout innings with four strikeouts to earn his first W of the summer.
Unlike Wednesday’s game, the Foresters bats did enough damage early to give the pitchers something to work with. Rylan Charles led off the game with a single, and reached third on a steal and passed ball. That put him in position to score on a sac fly by Miguel Santos, a ball that was just shy of leaving the yard. After Kevin Bazzell singled and Will Pendergrass walked, Griffin Everitt (who went 3-for-4) capped off his return to the lineup with a two-run single. Santa Barbara added a fourth in the third, when Pendergrass scored when his steal of third resulted in a wild throw by the catcher, sending the Foresters runner home with the fourth run of the night. A 4-0 lead was more than enough on a night when Foresters arms were just about lights-out.
In the fifth, the Barons did scratch one back, but the Foresters defense got a chance to contribute. A two-out single scored a run, but left-fielder Kade Higgins nailed a Barons runner at the plate to end the inning and the threat.
From then on (for the most part), it was the big, bad bullpen. After Alec Grossman was touched for the run in his single inning, Matthrew Magre struck out the side, and then Peyton Cole and Zach Tonnerre tossed perfect frames. Andrew Dusalbon did get into some trouble in the ninth, but Nick “The Doctor” Proctor arrived in time to strike out the final batter and send the Foresters home happy from Compton for the first time this season.
It’s time for a three-game homestand starting Friday at Pershing Park, as the Barons make a return visit; the game starts at 6 pm. If you can’t be there in person, listen on AM 1290 and FM 96.9 KZSB.