By Jim Buckley in Wichita
The Foresters outdid the Seattle Studs in just about every phase of the game in Friday morning’s NBC World Series quarterfinal, outhitting Seattle and striking out 14. However, the Sters did not come out ahead in the most important stat. Final score Seattle 5, Santa Barbara 0. The Foresters 2019 season ends with a 36-11 record, a CCL title, and a California State Championship to their credit.
In a postgame vote by the players and coaches, Eric Kennedy was named the 2019 MVP. Luke Taggart won the Eric Pintard Award as the top pitcher. Ryan Cash repeated his award as Best Teammate. Zach Presno and Elijah Trest were named Most Improved Player and Pitcher, respectively.
But before those votes were tallied, the familiar foes faced off at the tournament in Wichita, Kansas, for the tenth time since 2005. Going into the game, Santa Barbara led the series 5-4, with three of those games coming in Foresters national-championship victories in 2008, 2012, and 2014.
Clayton Beeter, normally an ace reliever, was sent out as an “opener” by the Foresters for his first start of the season. He struggled with his control, walking five in the first three innings. But he also hit 98 mph in the first while striking out two, and then he struck out the side in the second.
However, in the third, the Studs bunted for their first hit of the game and Beeter walked another batter before DH Jack Pauley drove a double to right centerfield to score two runs. The play doubled the number of runs the Foresters had given up in the tournament to that point. A single to deep short scored a third run for Seattle. That ended Beeter’s night. Ryan Sublette came on in relief and struck out four in four one-run innings of work.
The Studs added a fourth run in the seventh. A hit batter was moved around to score on a sacrifice bunt and a base hit that barely eluded a diving Tevin Tucker at short. An error by Tucker led to a fifth run in the eighth. After a walk, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice put a runner at third, Tucker misplayed a hard grounder that made the score 5-0.
Against starter Cody Culp, who pitched a complete game, Santa Barbara had chances in the first with a leadoff single from Eric Kennedy and in the second, when the first two batters reached base. But they didn’t capitalize. The Sters also put runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, but could not score.
Before the game, the NBC World Series presented the Eric Pintard Most Inspirational Award to Hunter LaMunyon of the Kansas Cannons. The award honors a player who inspires on and off the field. Hunter works during the summer—when he’s not playing—at a program in Sedgwick County, Kansas, that helps kids with developmental disabilities.