While eight Foresters chipped in one or more hits, it was simply not enough to overcome an early, eight run deficit, and Santa Barbara fell to Team USA 10-5, in the meeting in Chavez Ravine Tuesday afternoon.
For the first couple frames, it seemed like an ordinary start for Conor Mayes. The Longhorn pitcher gave up one run on two hits, but seemed to be in control, just like in his other starts. Then, in the bottom of the third, Team USA got his number. They racked up a staggering seven runs on seven hits, and knocked Mayes out of the game.
The Foresters waited until the fifth inning to provide a response, putting up three runs to make it 8-3. The inning started off with an impressive four straight singles, all from the bottom half of the Foresters’ lineup. Santa Barbara would go on to tack on one more in the sixth and one more in the seventh, to pull within three runs of Team USA. That, however, was as close as it ever got. Team USA put up two runs in the bottom of the eighth, also courtesy of the lower part of their lineup.
Despite the loss, the Foresters’ hit the ball well and received a great effort from Cody Crouse on the very mound from which Clayton Kershaw pitches. Crouse pitched 3.1 innings for the ‘Sters and gave up only two runs (not bad considering the high- caliber offense he faced). On the offensive side of things, it was Kyle Isbel, Dylan Paul, and Travis Moniot that had the most productive days at the plate. Each notched two hits on the day, accounting for over half of Santa Barbara’s eleven hits.
Two exciting moments for Foresters fans came from a pair of Hunter Williams’ at bats. With the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, his team down 8-4, Big Country (as he is fondly called by fans) got ahold of a fastball and drove it to dead center field. As the ball traveled deeper, it looked like it would clear the fence and tie the game. However, to the chagrin of Foresters fans, it seemed to die and Team USA center fielder, TJ Friedl, made the catch against the wall at the 395 foot marker. In the top of the ninth, in an identical situation, Williams drove another pitch, this time to right field. The catch was again made on the warning track, neutralizing the threat to Team USA’s lead.
Overall, the fans were rewarded a show for their trip to Los Angeles. The two clubs smacked a combined twenty-eight hits to bring in sixteen runs. The best college players in the country duked it out in historic Dodger stadium. And fortunately, the temperature never got above the speed of a decent fastball.
The Foresters will get another shot at the National Collegiate Team on Wednesday at 5:05 pm, this time at a venue they are more used to: Caesar Useyaka Stadium.—Matthew Selman