You know things are clicking when your team hits into a triple play . . . and you still score a run on the play. The bizarre baserunning was part of a busy night—a total of 25 hits, 16 runs, and 43 baserunners in all—at the ballpark as the Foresters opened up Rawlings California Cup play with an 11-5 victory over the Inland Valley Pirates.
DH Granger Studdard led the way with five RBI, continuing his second outstanding Foresters campaign. He now leads the team with 24 RBI, not that surprising when you remember he had 49 last summer, third-best all-time for a Ster.
“I feel the same way whether there are guys on base or not, they just do a great job getting on base for me,” he said. “But I stick with the same approach and things seemed to work out.”
He was certainly not alone on Thursday night. Every Foresters batter (except pinch-hitters) reached base at least once and all but one of them had either a hit, a run, or an RBI. Coaches praised the team’s professional attitude, especially noting that the team did not alter its approach as Pirates’ pitchers struggled with control, walking nine and hitting a batter.
Santa Barbara also hit for the cycle as a team, starting with John Holland’s triple on the first pitch of the game. Add in three doubles, a stack of singles, and Lex Kaplan’s big third-inning solo shot for the team’s fifth run to make up the rare feat. Santa Barbara scored in every inning except the fifth and seventh.
As for that unusual triple play, it’s worth getting the details. Jeremy Montalbano came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh. He hit a slow roller to short that the Pirates’ infield turned into your standard 6-4-3 double play, with Ryan Chandler scoring from third. However, shorstop John Brontsema was running all the way from second and after recording the second out at first base, the Pirates cut him down at the plate trying to score. Three outs, inning over. But since Chandler had scored before the final out was recorded, his run counted. One for the books.
Starter Willy Amador (4-0) fell one pitch short of a shutout in his 5 1/3 innings, giving up a three-run double to Pirates catcher Nick Marshall on his final pitch. However, Tylor Megill, Elliott Surrey, and Dylan Bein allowed only two runs in relief, while the Sters bats made the margin comfortable with two eighth-inning runs. Bein was a particularly positive sight. He was part of the 2014 national championship team but had not pitched at Texas State since last fall due to an injury.
The Foresters send Gary Cornish to the mound tomorrow to face the South Bay Saints in the second game of the four-day tournament. First pitch is 4 pm at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. —Jim Buckley, Photos by Eric Isaacs