By Sasha Steinberg
Bret Boswell went yard for the first time this year and Stainback extended his hitting streak to 13 games as the Santa Barbara Foresters cruised past the Conejo Oaks 8-4 on Thursday night at “Sparky” Anderson Baseball Field. With the win, the ‘Sters have now won five games in a row and have officially clinched the California Coastal League (CCL) Central division title.
Sam Odom got the start for the ‘Sters and carved up the Oaks line up holding them scoreless through four innings. Odom’s superb pitching places him second in the CCL in ERA (0.75).
There was no score until the third when the Foresters finally came alive. Steven Reveles sparked Santa Barbara with a single to left field, his first hit of the season as a Forester. After a fly out by Colt Atwood, Dave Graybill walked on four pitches to put men on first and second with two outs.
Ford Stainback who has been on fire at the plate lately stepped up to bat. On the first pitch from Conejo’s Tim Ginther, Stainback blasted a grounder up the middle for a single scoring Reveles from second. A throwing error by centerfielder Justin Cana allowed Stainback to reach second and Graybill to score putting the ‘Sters up 2-0.
The next batter, Granger Studdard crushed a ball down the right field line which hit the bag at first and bounced over the first basemen’s head scoring Stainback and extending the ‘Sters lead to 3-0.
Santa Barbara added to their lead in a big way in the fifth inning scoring four runs on three hits blowing the game open. With two outs Stainback got his second hit of the day with a chopper down the first base line. After a five-pitch walk by Granger Studdard, Jeremy Montalbano hit a hard ground ball that tipped the glove of the third baseman and rolled into left field for a single, extending his hitting streak to six games, and scoring Stainback from second.
With men on first and second, Bret Boswell demolished a ball that skied over the right field fence approximately 420 feet for a three run home run, his first of the year, extending the ‘Sters lead to 7-0.
Blake Goins (1-0) came into relieve Odom in the bottom half of the inning and pitched two and one third innings, striking out three batters and giving up two runs earning himself the win.
Cody Van Aken and Troy Cruz combined to pitch the final two and two third innings striking out four batters and giving up one earned run.
In the seventh, the ‘Sters tacked on another run fueled by Stainback who again jumped on the first pitch he saw and roped it down the first base line good for a triple, his third hit of the day. The next batter Montalbano laced a ball down the left field line for a double scoring Stainback easily from third and putting the ‘Sters up 8-0.
The Oaks scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the seventh off an infield single by Cody Ramer that bounced off Goins’ left leg allowing Jack Kruger, who had doubled earlier in the inning to score from second.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the same inning, Connor Garelick hit a single to centerfield scoring two more runs for the Oaks cutting into the ‘Sters lead.
Nonetheless, Santa Barbara’s early 8-0 lead proved to be insurmountable as the ‘Sters improved to 29-6 in league and 34-8 overall.
Granger Studdard and Jeremy Montalbano both went two for four with a single and a double.
The Foresters are now 28-0 when scoring five or more runs and have won eight out of their last nine games.
Stainback captures the EP Player of the Game honors as his hot hitting has launched him into first place in the CCL in batting average (.451). He was three for five on the day with a triple. Additionally, he has ten hits in his last 14 at bats, and has recorded at least two or more hits in seven of his last eight games.
With the win the ‘Sters are now 5-1 on the year against the Oaks with the lone loss coming in a non league affair in the Rawlings California Cup. Santa Barbara will look to sweep the two game series with the Oaks on Friday at 5:00pm.