by Nate Loop
The sharp crack of a well struck ball is one of the great sounds of summer. When a player connects with a ball just right, you don’t even need to watch the swing, as long as you heard it. These collegiate players may not yet be used to wielding a wooden bat everyday, but if any team could find the sweet spot on a piece of lumber, it would be a team called the Foresters. A pair of solo home runs and some timely hitting backed up another potent pitching performance by the Foresters staff, as the San Luis Obispo Rattlers found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 ballgame
The game got off to a sputtering start for the home team as the Foresters put on six different baserunners in the first two innings, but couldn’t bring anyone around to score. They loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but a costly double play ball ended that rally. In the second, they managed three hits, all singles, but the Rattlers threw out Tyler Pearson at home plate to erase the ‘Sters best chance at scoring up to that point
If at first it looked like the Foresters would struggle to score runs, one thing that was never in doubt was the Foresters pitching. Thomas Lemke, a 6’8 goliath out of the University of Nebraska, took the mound to begin the game for ‘Sters. The towering righthander was not overpowering, but did well to keep the Rattlers at bay, spreading out four hits over five innings of solid work.
With two outs in third inning and nobody on base, designated hitter Nick Melino decided to take it upon himself to light up the scoreboard. He sent a 1-0 pitch from Rattlers starter Jason Bell into orbit over right-center field, the ball touching down just over the fence, 390 feet from home base. The home run was Melino’s second of the young season, and the score was 1-0 to the Foresters.
If Melino’s shot in the third inning is instant offense, then Zach Fish’s path to scoring in the fourth counts as an odyssey. Fish singled on a liner into left, moved to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a groundout by Kaeo Aliviado, and then scored on a wild pitch. The unconventional journey made it 2-0 to the ‘Sters.
In the fifth inning, Fish lined a single to score Cal Vogelsang from second to stretch the lead to three runs.
T.J. McGreevey came in to pitch for the ‘Sters in the sixth inning, and picked up right where Lemke left off. He went three innings, allowing a pair of hits while striking out four Rattlers.
The Foresters went up 4-0 in the eight inning courtesy of solo home run by Jacob Felts, who was pinch hitting for Pearson. He caught a pitch loitering dangerously over the middle of home plate and sent it towards the scoreboard in left field for his first home run of the season.
Dae Yang Kim came in to pitch the final frame for the ‘Sters. He gave up a solo home run to the first Rattler he faced, designated hitter Trevor Nathanson. The home run was the only blemish for the ‘Sters pitching staff, as Kim put the rude introduction to the game behind him and retired the next three batters to end the game, the last two by way of the “K”.
Joey Gonzales, Cal Vogelsang, and Zach Fish each collected a pair of hits to pace the Foresters.
No Rattler collected more than a single base hit, another testament to the effectiveness of the Foresters pitching staff this afternoon.
The victory brings the Foresters record now to 5-5 overall. They remain 2-1 in California Collegiate League play.
The Foresters now play two games against the Southern California Halos before heading out of state this weekend to play Team Vegas, a CCL opponent. The first game against the Halos is tomorrow afternoon at 5:10 pm at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.