Photo by Vic Neumann
By Will Bashur
The Conejo Oaks came into the Tuesday’s game riding a ten-game win streak, but even they couldn’t solve the Foresters’ spellbinding pitching as they fell to Santa Barbara, 7-2. Behind twelve combined strikeouts, the ‘Sters staff iced the scalding hot Oaks bats, and picked up their 20th win in California Collegiate League play.
Foresters starter Tanner Bibee delivered his best performance of the summer, tossing five scoreless innings behind eight strikeouts. Bibee was in command of the zone all game, frequently getting ahead in the count and putting Oaks hitters in quick holes. The Cal State Fullerton Titan only issued one walk, and threw fifty of his seventy five pitches for strikes.
Santa Barbara’s offense provided Bibee with an early cushion, scoring three runs before many fans had even taken their seats. Logan Allen and Hank LoForte smacked line drive singles to begin the game, and Luke Ritter drove them in with an impressive opposite field homer. Conejo starter Jonathan Lavallee was able to retire the next three ‘Sters to stop the bleeding, but by the end of the first Santa Barbara was up 3-0.
Gavin Velazquez entered the game in the sixth in relief of his fellow Fullerton Titan, and threw two scoreless innings to preserve the shutout. Velazquez barely broke a sweat, as he threw just seventeen pitches while lowering his ERA to an exceptional 1.29.
While Velazquez was keeping the Oaks in check, the ‘Sters were cooking up some more offense.
In the fifth, the Forester veteran LoForte picked up his first RBI of the summer, driving in Brandon Zaragoza on his second hit of the evening. One inning later, ‘Sters slugger Conor Davis blasted a towering opposite field home run that disappeared into the trees beyond the right field fence. At the end of six, Santa Barbara lead the Oaks 5-0.
But the ‘Sters were hungry for more.
In the seventh, Luke Ritter cashed in his fourth RBI of the contest with an RBI single that scored LoForte. After Chase Illig was hit in the foot by a fastball from Oaks reliever Joe Torres, Davis continued his great day at the plate by driving in Ritter on an RBI single. With both singles, Santa Barbara extended their lead to 7-0.
By the eighth, the Oaks had gotten sick of the seven zeroes that appeared on their line of the scoreboard.
Oaks heavy hitter Brandon Lewis tattooed an Elliott Anderson fastball for an emphatic two-run home run, ending the shutout and cutting the deficit to 7-2. The two runs were the first earned runs allowed by Anderson all summer.
But the home run was all the fun Conejo had for the evening.
Anderson escaped the eighth, and Foresters closer Chase Wallace struck out the side in the ninth to secure the 26th victory of the summer for the ‘Sters.
Santa Barbara will enjoy another day off tomorrow before beginning a two-game home-and-home series with the Orange County Riptide in Fullerton on Thursday at 4:30 PM. Be sure to tune into 1290 AM for full coverage of the game beginning at 5PM.