by Nate Loop
Ups and downs are normal for any team in a season, but the Foresters must feel like they have gone from the Marianas Trench, up Mount Everest, and back down again in the past few days. A three game series against the San Luis Obispo Blues saw them score just two runs. The ‘Sters didn’t stay down for long, but they didn’t stay up for long either. Just one day after the Foresters must have felt like they reached the mountaintop, a 19-2 scoring avalanche against the Conejo Oaks, they found themselves mired deep in the brush of yet another valley, the Conejo Valley to be specific, as they found themselves on the ugly end of a 5-0 ballgame on the road.
No team can follow such a manic pattern for long, and the Foresters seemed to have gained back a little bit of normalcy, as the pitching remained unforgiving and the hits came back to the lineup. The Foresters plateaued at three runs, but it was enough to earn a one run win and a series victory over the Oaks.
The Foresters traded blows with the Oaks for the first couple of innings, as each team got to the pitchers early. The ‘Sters struck first in the bottom of the first inning, with Arby Fields scoring on a groundout from Austin Davidson.
The Oaks came right back in the top of the second, facing Vince Wheeland on the mound, who was making his inaugural appearance of the summer campaign. Luke Eubank singled in Kalei Hanawahine from second base to tie up the game at 1-1.
Wheeland gave up another run, unearned this time, in the top of the third inning. Eric Fisher singled in Denver Chavez, who reached on a throwing error by Austin Davidson. The Oaks had runners on in scoring position, but Wheeland used his heater to cauterize the wound and keep the Oaks from putting up any more runs.
The Foresters then proceeded to tie the game up in the bottom of the third inning. A nice two-out single from Austin Davidson drove in Kaeo Aliviado from second base.
Wheeland was on a pitch count as he gets back into form for the summer, and gave way to UCSB product Andrew Vasquez to start the fourth inning.
Vasquez started off a bit shakily, but was backed up by some excellent defense by his fellow ‘Sters. Oaks catcher Travis Forbes laced a slider down the right field line that was fair by about two blades of grass. He tried to stretch his hit into a triple, but was cut down on a solid relay. Vogelsang picked the ball up in right and hit the cutoff man Grant Davis, who turned and fired to the third baseman Shane Hoelscher, who could have put up a lawn chair and an umbrella as he waited for Forbes to sprint to the third base.
The game slowed down in the middle innings, as neither team posed much of a threat, and the scoreboards were identical after five and a half innings; two runs, six hits, and an error apiece.
The Foresters excellent pitching staff held the Oaks hitless for the last four innings. Vasquez went perfect in the fifth inning and relinquished pitching duties to Willie Kuhl, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings.Kuhl allowed the Oaks only baserunner in the final four innings, a walk in the top of the seventh inning.
The Foresters had the decisive run handed to them to break the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Arby Fields came in to the batters box to face Harper White. White walked him on five pitches, and the Foresters went up 3-2.
T.J. McGreevey pitched a solid inning and a third, and Manager Bill Pintard elected to bring in Hunter Lemke to save the game with two outs remaining and one score separating the clubs. Lemke induced an ugly, half-hearted check swing out of pinch hitter Jesse Weiss, and that was the all she wrote for this edition of Foresters baseball.
Willie Kuhl notched the win for the Foresters, his second of the season. Lemke recorded his third save of the season, and has yet to give up an earned run in his 8 1/3 innings pitched so far this summer.
Jacob Felts went 3 for 3 at the plate today, upping his batting average on the summer to a staggering .471. It’s also worth noting that Felts is slugging .735 and plays mostly catcher, a difficult position considering the myriad of pitchers he has to catch and establish a rhythm with in any one game.
The Foresters have the day off on Monday, and then they play a non-league game on Tuesday against the California Wahoos. The game will start at 5:00 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.