With the two staffs combining for nineteen strikeouts and only two earned runs, it was a pitching duel for the ages as the Foresters tied Team USA 1-1 in a ten-inning meeting.
The atmosphere at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium was certainly out of the ordinary, as nearly 150 scouts filled the lower deck and a portion of the upper deck as well. On top of that, 300 more fans packed in to make it the fullest house of the summer, as the Foresters got another shot at Team USA on Wednesday night.
Kyle Johnston (2-0) got the start for Santa Barbara and was stellar for six innings, giving up only one earned run, while fanning six and walking none. It was the best start of the summer for Johnston, a fact made even more impressive because it came against the Foresters’ most formidable opponent. In a groove from the start, the six-foot righty retired eleven of the first twelve batters he faced.
After the game, Johnston remarked on his approach during a difficult first and third situation with no outs, saying, “I just tried to stay within myself and keep making quality pitches and just see what happens and it turned out to work out.” It certainly did work out for him, as he struck out the next two batters and got the third to fly out to neutralize the threat.
The Foresters’ lone run came from a spectacular bash over the left-centerfield wall, courtesy of Hunter Williams, in the bottom of the fourth inning. What he couldn’t get yesterday, he got today—with a bat flip to boot. Hunter, who came into the game with four round trippers, has been an offensive powerhouse for Santa Barbara this season, leading the team in both home runs and RBI.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, with runners on first and second, and one out, the game was called when Team USA pitcher Kyle Nelson suffered an injury. Because of the limited staff for the still-forming national team, there was no left to finish and the game was called at that point. Santa Barbara was in a perfect position to score the winning run, as they had all the momentum at the time and a man on second base, yet was not given the chance.
Despite the official ruling of a tie, it was certainly seemed like a win for the Foresters. Their pitching staff did not walk a single batter in ten innings of play. They played crisp ball, committing no errors for the first time in nine games. And they came back from a tough loss on a huge stage to wow a big home crowd, as they stood toe to toe with what is theoretically the best collegiate team in the country.
The ‘Sters are back in action with a non-league game Thursday evening at 5:05 pm, when they host the Orange County Surf.—Matthew Selman
Photos by Kurt Stoffer.
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