By Emma del Sol
In his Foresters debut, UCSD pitcher Troy Cruz had seven strikeouts, no walks, and one hit in his four innings of relief work. The ‘Sters came from behind and had seven steals in the game, no errors, and allowed no stolen bases against them in their 8-6 win over the Walnut Creek Crawdads. Cruz earned the win and Cody Van Aken got the save.
The ‘Sters started off the game with two runs in the first inning. Leadoff batter Colt Atwood reached first on an infield single and advanced to second when Ford Stainback hit a single up the middle that slid under the second baseman’s glove. Atwood then stole third standing up. Dave Graybill singled to third allowing Stainback to score on the error by the catcher. Bret Bosewell grounded to the second baseman, bringing home David Greer, who reached on a fielder’s choice. ‘Sters take a 2-0 lead after one.
The Crawdads however came back biting in the top of the second and scored five runs in the top of the second. The Crawdads would have scored more runs had it not been for the impressive defensive work of Ford Stainback at short and L Grant Davis at second, helping starting pitcher Kyle Kubat get out of a jam.
The ‘Sters came back in the bottom of the inning to lessen the Crawdads lead to two. AJ Kennedy reached first on an error by the third baseman. L Davis, the next batter, reached first on a fielder’s choice. L Davis then got to second on a balk by pitcher Frank Waliczek. L Davis then stole third without a throw. Jake Vickerson then grounded out to the second baseman, allowing L Davis to score.
The two-run lead by the Crawdads was expanded when Michael Sherwin hit a 3-1-count home run in the top of the third.
Timely hits and great base running helped the Foresters tie the score in the bottom of the third. Stainback led off with a walk. Greer had single to center, allowing Stainback to advance to third. Greer then stole second. Graybill then singled to left, scoring Stainback and Greer. Graybill then stole his twelfth base of the year. Graybill was running on the pitch, as AJ Balta singled between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Graybill. Stainback stole second, giving the ‘Sters four stolen bases in three innings.
The ‘Sters almost hit for the cycle in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. L Davis led off the inning with a hard hit triple all the way to the wall in center field, 410 feet. Vickerson hit another ball to deep center for a double, scoring L Davis.
Troy Cruz made his first relief appearance of the season, striking out the first two batters he faced. Boswell helped out Cruz by making a tough throw from third to throw out the base runner. Definitely worth a SportsCenter Top 10 play. Boswell also led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a walk. It isn’t very often that a player makes a great inning ending play and then leads off the next inning.
The ‘Sters expanded their lead in the sixth inning with Vickerson leading off with a walk. On the next pitch, Vickerson stole second, the seventh steal of the game for the ‘Sters. Atwood then had a broken bat single to center bringing Vickerson home.
Foresters threatened late but failed to put additional insurance runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning. Atwood lined a base hit single to left field with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, and then advanced to second on a passed ball.
Cody Van Aken entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, relieving Cruz after four scoreless innings. Van Aken struck out the first two batters of the inning and picked up the final out on a fly ball to the centerfielder.
Troy Cruz earns today’s top honor as EP Beverage Player of the Game after having a phenomenal debut for the ‘Sters. Cruz showed that when he is called on he delivers. We do not know yet whether he will only be used for relief work or if he’ll get called upon to start a game.