A crooked number for the Foresters in the first inning proved to be enough for a 6-2 win over the Ventura Halos on Thursday evening, as smoke from the Sherpa fire hovered in the western sky.
The Halos scored in the top of the first on a Brendan Griffith RBI double, but it was the Foresters’ response in the bottom half of the frame that ultimately decided this one. Colton Waltner started the inning off with an infield base hit, and ended up at second base after an errant throw. An RBI single by Travis Moniot, a beautiful bunt for a base hit by Kyle Isbel, and a double deep in the right-center gap by Trevor Abrams soon followed, bringing in two runs for the Foresters.
A twisting catch by Halo right fielder Ben Skinner off a drive by Hunter Williams turned a would-be double into a sac fly, bringing in the Foresters’ third run of the inning. A quirky infield base hit off the end of the bat of Kreston Woods brought in the fourth and final run of the inning for Santa Barbara.
For most of the rest of the game, the two teams traded hits, both finishing the night with nine apiece. The ‘Sters certainly spread the offense around, with nine hitters getting one hit apiece.
In the sixth inning, Austin Blessing came in for a crucial relief appearance, inheriting a bases-loaded, one-out situation. With the score still at a close 4-2 in favor of the ’Sters, Blessing clutched up, staving off the Halos’ bats and earning the praise of Foresters’ Manager Bill Pintard.
“Blessing was tremendous. Came in with the bases loaded and a tough situation and he got two outs for us. A big outing for him.”
The Foresters went on to add two insurance runs—including a line-drive homer by Hunter Williams in his Foresters debut—and Zach Esquivel and Sean Chandler followed Blessing, allowing no runs.
With four straight wins, the Foresters are heating up as they move into a three-game home series against the Menlo Park Legends. Game one will be at 5:05 pm on Friday, June 17, at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.—Matthew Selman.
Photos by Eric Isaacs