The Foresters went toe to toe against the Blues today, each team throwing punches, but landing very few hits. Nine innings couldn’t settle the score between the two teams, but the Foresters found themselves on the winning side of their first extra innings game of the summer, beating the Blues 1-0 in the tenth inning on one of the unlikeliest of plays.
Ian McCarthy, who has been the standout starter for the Foresters so far this summer, took the mound to begin the game. He looked sharp from the get-go, and did not find himself in trouble throughout the afternoon.
Blues Starter Dylan Munger was almost equally untouchable, and threw six scoreless innings of his own to start the ballgame.
Each pitcher was backed up by some excellent defensive play. The game featured some swirling wind that at times made the ball difficult to track, but the players adjusted well.
Munger was almost never in danger on the day. His nerviest moment came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when he gave up a two out hit to catcher Tyler Pearson. He belted the ball into deep right center, and went into third for a stand up triple. With a run 90 feet form the plate, the closest any player had gotten up to that point, Munger bore down and got the next batter, Stell, to strike out swinging to end the threat.
Ian McCarthy was pulled after five stellar innings, and gave way to Andrew Vasquez, the UCSB freshman sensation who made his second appearance for the Sters.
The tone was set by the starting pitchers, as the opportunities would come few and far between for either ballclub throughout the evening.
The coaches began to micro-manage every aspect of the game. A pinch runner here, a called hit and run there, and a war chest of good arms that played pitch and toss with the catcher, dodging bats for the majority of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Arby Fields led off and drew a walk. The next batter, Jacob Felts, could not lay down the sacrifice bunt, and struck out looking. Fields made a break and slid into second on the strike three pitch, but the throw from catcher Cody Dufrene was wide, and Fields moved to third, representing the winning run, a mere 90 feet from coming home. The next batter, Ryan O’Hearn struck out. Kaeo Aliviado came up and hit a hard grounder that almost escaped into the outfield, but the first baseman Austin Christensen knocked it down and stepped on the bag, setting up some free baseball for the fans at the ballpark.
As the game dragged on into the evening, the crowd became more vocal, cheering every good throw, roaring for strikeouts, and calling out in support of the ‘Sters, willing the team to finally score and break the scoreless deadlock.
Hunter Lemke breezed through the top of the 10th inning, setting up the extra frame for the ‘Sters batters
The Foresters kept knocking on the door, and before they could kick it down, the Blues opened it up for them in the 10th inning.
With the Blues sending Parker Ray out to take the mound, Shane Hoelscher led off and reached first on an error by shortstop Ryan Walker. Pearson then struck out for the first out, and Hoelscher held. Nick Melino came in to pinch hit for Taylor Stell, and rewarded his manager with a hit-and-run single that moved through the hole between first and second, and allowed Hoelscher to move to third. Grant Davis then came up with the chance to win it, but went down on strikes for the second out.
And just when it looked like the Foresters would strand Hoelscher on his dusty island at third base, they received a gift from the pitchers mound. Ray threw a breaking ball that bounced in the dirt and up and over the catcher Christensen. Hoelscher immediately broke for home, and slid in just before the tag from Ray, giving the Foresters the hard earned victory.
Hunter Lemke earned the victory for the ‘Sters. Andrew Vasquez and Albert Minnis each threw a scoreless inning, book-ending the two hitless innings tossed by Willie Kuhl. In fact, McCarthy and Minnis were the only two Foresters pitchers to allow runners on base.
The rubber match for the two teams will be played Thursday at UCSB. Game time starts at 5:10p.m. This edition of Foresters baseball will be sponsored by Coastal Copy.