By Jim Buckley
If the Foresters review video footage from Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the MLB Academy Barons, they might want to skip a few frames. Three errors by the ’Sters (2-4) led directly to Barons runs; plus, for the second game in a row, Foresters bats were fairly quiet, with only seven hits. The team probably can’t wait to get back home, as they have now lost three straight on the road.
Even with that, a sign of encouragement was that—as they have in nearly each of their losses—the Foresters put the tying or winning runs on base late, but just did not get that final hit. This game ended on a bang-bang play at first base with what would have been the tying run steaming toward home.
On Wednesday, the defensive problems started early. The Foresters committed their first error in the first. . . and it was by the first baseman, Nate Rombach, allowing the Barons to take the 1-0 lead.
The Foresters tied the score in the second after earning a pair of two-out walks. CF Rylan Charles then drove a single to right field to bring in LF Kade Higgins, who had reached on the first of those walks.
In the third, with Barons on first and second, the Foresters did make a good defensive play, cutting down a runner at third on an attempted sac bunt. But then Mark Hernandez smacked a double off Foresters starter Peyton Tolle that scored both runners, and the Barons were up 3-1.
The Academy earned two more in the sixth, again with help from the Foresters. With men on first and second, 3B Gavin Kash tossed a one-out bunt attempt past Rombach and a run scored. Kamau Neighbors smacked a single to center to score one more. Defense did offer a bit of relief on the play as Charles nailed a runner at home to end the inning with the Barons now up 5-1.
The offensive highlight for Santa Barbara came in the seventh—but it, too, was tinged by error. With RF Pat Caulfield on first, Higgins smacked a solid single to right field . . . which turned into two surprise runs when the right fielder let the ball get by him for a three-base error. That brought Santa Barbara within two, down 5-3. But that was where it ended two innings later.
Tolle put in five solid innings, allowing four hits and three walks; two of the three runs he allowed were unearned. Nick Proctor struck out the side in the top of the eighth.
The Foresters hope that home cooking will taste better. They host the Barons at Pershing Park Friday at 6 pm. If you can’t be there in person, tune in to AM 1290 or FM 96.9 KZSB to hear all the action.