As dense clouds of forest fire smoke rose over the distant foothills, eventually dimming the sun, Foresters fans enjoyed their own set of fireworks on the field, along with lights-out pitching. Santa Barbara swept a doubleheader over the Ventura Halos by scores of 4-1 and 11-5. The distant fire that started near Lake Cachuma as the first game of the afternoon began became the backdrop to a hot day at the ballfield.
In the first game, Sters starter Daniel Vasquez was the hottest thing on this side of the mountains, scattering seven hits in seven shutout innings, while walking only one and striking out five. He was helped by a trio of double plays behind him. Halos starter Dylan Francis was nearly as effective, allowing only a booming solo homer to Josh Jung in the third inning. The Sters broke it open in the seventh, though, when Francis threw away a sacrifice bunt attempt by Joey Fiske that allowed two runs to score. Evan Lee then drove home a fourth run with a single, his third hit of the day. Colton Follett gave up a run in the eighth, but struck out the side in the ninth to seal the win.
The second game was an offensive showcase for the Foresters, who banged out 12 hits including five for extra bases. The bottom of the order did the most damage, as eight-hole hitter Steven Coe knocked in four on two hits, while number-nine hitter Jimmy Galusky was 3-for-3 with 3 runs and two RBI, both of which came on a sixth-inning homer. Brody Weiss also had a big game with a pair of hits, including a third-inning RBI triple that brought the fans to their feet. Chandler Bengston had a pair of hits and scored three runs.
All this offense backed a nice job by starter Nathan Wiles, who allowed only one run in five innings. Evan Kravetz struck out three in his two innings of work, while Corey Herndon added two more Ks in his scoreless inning. Newcomer Chris Fearon struggled in the ninth, but punched out the final batter after giving up two as the red sun disappeared in the smoke.
The Foresters continue a busy weekend of baseball on Sunday with a 2 pm game against the Arroyo Seco Saints at Pershing Park. —Jim Buckley