How do you say goodbye to a building? You can’t hug it. You can’t kiss it one more time. You can’t shake hands and wish it well.
But you can leave it behind with the memory of one last scoring binge.
On Sunday, the Foresters played their final game ever at their long time home, Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, and crushed the San Luis Blues, 12-1. The victory clinched the CCL Central Division title for the Foresters, sending them into the CCL playoffs starting Friday July 29.
But Sunday was for goodbyes and thank yous. The Foresters players honored their host families at a pregame ceremony, while the organization thanked fans with a game-long raffle of prizes. For their part, the players offered up thanks in the form of hits, including eight from the top three hitters in the order. A pair of five-run innings was more than enough for starter Connor Mayes, who was outstanding, allowing only three hits and a walk in five innings, an even more courageous outing as he was coming back from an injury.
After the ’Sters got a pair in the second, they erupted for a five-spot in the fourth. Trevor Abrams led off with a hit (one of three he had in the game), and Brian Bussey laid down a sac bunt, his first of the summer. Hunter Stovall, who was a perfect 3-for-3 in the game, doubled home Abrams. That was the first of four straight hits for Santa Barbara that added three more runs.
A Bret Boswell homer, his team-leading seventh of the season, kicked off another five-run inning in the sixth. The 7-8-9 hitters each scored later in the inning, with Stovall again contributing an RBI.
As the final out was made (for the record, a ground ball to Hunter Williams at third), the Foresters poured onto the field to celebrate their division title. The fans stuck around to thank the board, the staff, the volunteers, the coaches and more. The final Foresters contest at Caesar Uyesaka (which began with a ceremonial first pitch by Caesar’s son, Paul, a longtime Foresters board member) was bittersweet, but mostly sweet. So many games, so many memories, so many kids having so much fun. So many fans cheering so many hits and wins. So many hot dogs, so many foul ball chases, so much fun.
We thank and honor the thousands of people who have helped us make Caesar Uyesaka Stadium our home for 25 years. Don’t worry, we’ll find somewhere else to make home.
Keep you posted. ’Ster it up. —Jim Buckley