By Emma Del Sol
Both hitting and pitching were the themes today in the first CCL matchup between your Santa Barbara Foresters and the Conejo Oaks, as the ‘Sters took the victory 8-1. Winning the game was starting pitcher Jon Duplantier, who gave up two hits while striking out nine in six innings in his Foresters debut.
At the start of todays 5 o’clock game, there was a slight breeze coming in from right field on a cloudless day in Thousand Oaks. In the first inning the Foresters gave up one run on two hits and a throwing error from Duplantier. Those hits ended up being the only two hits for the Oaks in the entire game.
In the top of the second inning, Dave Graybill reached on a sharp-hit single to left and stole second on the first pitch to Jeremy Montalbano, who then advanced Graybill to third on another sharp hit ball to left field. On the third pitch of the at bat, Montalbano stole second while Graybill stole home, completing a double steal for the Foresters. On a full count Granger Studdard hit a double to left-center, scoring Montalbano. L Grant Davis then grounded out, leaving Studdard stranded at third.
Montalbano led off the top of the fourth with a double to right-center. After a fly out advanced him to third, Brett Boswell hit a double to left field to drive in Montalbano. L. Davis grounded out to the shortstop to end the top of the fourth inning, leaving Boswell at third. In the bottom of the fourth, Duplantier struck out the side, with each batter whiffing at a slider for the third strike.
On a 2-0 count Jaylin Davis led off the top of the fifth inning with a massive home run to left field. To start off the bottom of the fifth, Duplantier struck out the first two batters swinging, giving him five consecutive strikeouts.
Montalbano led off the top off the top of the sixth with a tapper for a single. Studdard then hit a sharp liner to the left field warning track, advancing Montalbano to third. Boswell followed with a sac-fly to the right-field warning track, scoring Montalbano and advancing Studdard to third. Reggie Southall came up next and lined a sharp grounder down the first base line to drive in a run. Southall reached third on an errant pick off attempt, but was stranded on third when J. Davis grounded out to end the frame.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Jake Vickerson came in to left field only thirty minutes after arriving to the ballpark from Mississippi. Duplantier had retired the last thirteen straight batters before Nick Bruno was hit by a pitch advancing him to first. However, the inning ended on a 6-4-3 double play!
Vickerson walked and later scored on a line-drive single by Montalbano to center in the top of the seventh. The Foresters continued their hitting success in the top of the eighth, with a soft single to center by Southall putting a pair of runners on. J. Davis then hit a single to third, scoring the ‘Sters eighth run of the game.
Cody Van Aken came in to pitch in the bottom of the seventh, tossing three perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.
For today’s EP Beverage Player of the Game, Coach Pintard decided to go with the unconventional way and choose two players of the game, Jeremy Montalbano and Jon Duplantier, the starting pitcher and catcher. Montalbano reached base in all five of his at bats, going 4-4 with a walk. Duplantier allowed one run on two hits, both allowed in the first inning before the next 16 outs were recorded without giving up a hit. A strong pitching performance by Duplantier and a strong defensive and offensive performance by Montalbano proved to be a major contributor to the Foresters 8-1 victory.