By Jim Buckley
A local kid made good on Sunday during the Foresters game, but it was not a ’Sters star. Former San Marcos High and SBCC hitter Ryan Guardino connected on a first-pitch home run in the tenth inning to snap a tie and give his Santa Maria Pea Soup a 7-6 win over the Foresters. Santa Barbara had been up 6-0 after four innings, but then they let the Soup’s lead runner on base in each of the next six innings. That let Santa Maria claw back in to tie the score in the top of the ninth.
The Foresters actually had a chance to win it in nine, but literally dropped the ball. With Soupmen on first and third and one out, a ground ball up the middle erased one runner, but the ball was fumbled away before the final out could be recorded at first. The tying run scored on the play.
“If we make that play,” manager Bill Pintard said about 30 minutes later, after the fateful tenth, “we’re already cleaned up and out of here right now. Instead, we gave them life. We just didn’t make plays tonight, walked too many guys, kind of kicked the game away. We got just sloppy enough at the end of the game to give it away.”
The Foresters got on the board in the first thanks to player of the week Jace Jung, who continued his inspired play. He walked and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, then hustled home to score on a groundout to the pitcher. In the third inning, he scored again after being hit by a pitch and then stealing; he came in via a fly ball to center by Peyton Graham that was dropped. (Jung hit .571 for the week, while scoring 12 runs and knocking in nine.) Then with two on, Christian Encarnacion smashed a long homer to left, his team-leading fourth of the season, to make the score 6-0. That offensive effort backed up a scoreless start by Blake Adams, who came back strong after escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first.
“We got a solid four innings out of Blake tonight, which was really nice to see. He hasn’t started yet, so we got to see him in that role,” added Pintard. “But the rest of the pitchers gave up way too many walks and we let the leadoff man on base way too often.”
Adams aside, however, it was all Soup. Foresters relievers let the first three runners score in the seventh on a pair of hits, then the first two eighth-inning batters also came around to score. In the ninth, a come-backer nearly became a key double-play, and then the next grounder was the fielders’ choice that tied the game. At 6-6 in the tenth, Guardino hit the first pitch he saw over the centerfield fence, and the Foresters went out scoreless in the bottom of the inning.
It was just Santa Barbara’s second loss. They get a day off Monday and then face the Pea Soup again on Tuesday at Pershing Park at 6 pm. Tune in on KCSB.org/sports.