By Jim Buckley; photo by Kylie Koeper
The Foresters served up all the ingredients for an opening-game victory in the NBC World Series. In beating the Haysville Aviators 6-0, the ’Sters played a complete ballgame, with great pitching, clutch hitting, smart fielding, and alert baserunning. They checked all the boxes and start defense of their back-to-back national championships with a big W.
The first key story was the work of starter Graham Osman, who earned his fourth win of the summer with a sterling performance—5.1 innings, 6 Ks, 3 hits, and no runs. Chase Webster followed by getting a huge double-play grounder to end one threat, and then striking out the side in the seventh. Nick Proctor wrapped up a shutout by the Foresters staff with another three-K ninth.
Power pitching was backed up by a 13-hit attack that included six batters with multiple hits, led by leadoff man Hunter Ensley’s three, including a homer. Add in defense that performed a perfect rundown and made only one meaningless error, and sprinkle with alert baserunning that led to a pair of runs, and you’ve got a tasty baseball meal.
The Foresters opened the scoring in third. After a leadoff single by Gianni Horvat, Ensley moved him to third, but on the throw to get Horvat, Ensley ended up in a rundown between first and second. He and Horvat executed it so well that Horvat was able to scamper home from third, while Ensley stayed safe at first. Nate Rombach then whacked a double to left field to score Ensley.
Ensley was part of the next Foresters run, too. After Sebastian Orduno singled and new arrival Nick McLain was hit by a pitch, a sac bunt by Horvat moved the runners up. Ensley grounded to shortstop deep enough to led Orduno score the third run.
After leaving the bases loaded in the fifth, a rare offensive blemish, Santa Barbara made it 4-0. Gavin Kash led off the seventh with a double and was nearly stranded, but Orduno came through with a clutch two-out single to score Kash.
Ensley’s long homer to deep left field made it 5-0 leading off the eighth. A three-hit, two-out rally in the ninth was capped by Horvat knocking in McLain, who had his second double of the night.
The Foresters play Sunday, July 31, in Game 2 of Pool B play vs the San Diego Stars, who beat the Denver Cougars earlier on Friday 3-2 in 15 innings. The game time will be posted on all Foresters social media as soon as it is announced. The games are being broadcast on AM 1290 and FM 96.9, as well as livestreamed for free on the NBC World Series YouTube channel.