Photo by Vic Neumann
By Will Bashur
The Foresters looked like a completely different team on Wednesday, as they pounded the Academy Barons 13-4 to wrap up CCL play for the summer. The blowout victory came just a day after Santa Barbara stumbled to a 5-4 loss at the hands of the Academy. Michael Neustifter was the catalyst of the Foresters’ offense, driving in three runs off of two triples and a single.
Even though the Foresters’ bus arrived two hours late to the MLB Urban Youth Academy, the Santa Barbara lineup didn’t delay in putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Neustifter began Santa Barbara’s scoring barrage with a booming two-out triple in the first. The ball appeared to be gone off the bat, but instead bounced off the wall in left-center, allowing Ryan Cash to score all the way from first and giving the ‘Sters an early 1-0 lead.
The Barons responded with their own run in the bottom of the first when catcher Joseph Argumedo punched a Kamron Fields fastball to right to score Trent Anderson. Argumedo’s single knotted the game at 1-1 at the end of one, but it didn’t stay tied for long.
Santa Barbara erupted in the second by putting up four runs off five hits. Connor Woods emerged as an unlikely hero when he smacked a sharp double down the left field line to drive in Tyler Hardman. Woods, who had been used almost exclusively as a pitcher for Coach Bill Pintard over the course of the summer, got the start in left field on Wednesday and delivered at the dish. Logan Allen followed Woods with an RBI single, and Cash continued the scoring with a fielder’s choice to score Woods. Cash then used his speed to swipe second and third, and soon scored on a passed ball. At the end of two, the Foresters had jumped to a 5-1 lead.
Woods continued to rake in the third, when he shot a triple into deep left-center field, driving in Turner Gauntt to extend Santa Barbara’s lead to 6-1. Even though he entered the game with just six at bats, Woods showed no signs of rustiness at the plate. Allen scored Woods for the second time of the night on an RBI groundout, giving the ’Sters a comfortable 7-1 cushion.
Utah Jones kept increasing the lead in the fourth when he roped a single into center field, scoring Neustifter to put Santa Barbara up 8-1. Jones’s hit was the ninth of the night, giving the Foresters more hits in four innings on Wednesday then they had all of Tuesday.
The ’Sters took a brief scoring break in the fifth and sixth as the Barons’ bats began to show some pop.
Barons catcher Argumedo crushed a homer off Fields in the last half of the fourth to pull the Academy within six. The Barons scored two more runs in the sixth off Foresters reliever Elliott Anderson, highlighted by first baseman Adam Cendejas’s towering double. With the double, the Barons trailed 8-4 at the end of six.
Unfortunately for the Barons, a four run deficit was as close as they would get to Santa Barbara.
The Foresters tacked on another run in the seventh when Cash hit a bloop single to drive in Allen from third, who had just hit Santa Barbara’s fourth triple of the night. Another run was scored in the eighth when Jones scurried home off a wild pitch from Barons reliever Ryan Zapata, giving the Foresters a commanding 10-4 advantage.
Dane Acker kept the Barons from starting a rally as he struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth. Acker ended his night with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts, and allowed just one hit.
Santa Barbara put up another three spot in the ninth when Neustifter hit his second triple of the night, driving in Cash and Luke Ritter. Brandon Zaragoza added one more run to the rout when he scored Neustifter with an RBI groundout, stretching the Foresters’ lead to 13-4.
Chase Wallace entered in the ninth and made quick work of the Barons, needing just six pitches to close the book on the Academy.
The Foresters will return home on Thursday to take on the Santa Barbara Grizzlies in their final regular season game of the summer. Be sure to tune into 1290 AM for full coverage of the game, beginning with the Coastal Copy Pregame Show at 5:50.