Kicking off a three-game series against the MLB Academy Barons, the Santa Barbara Foresters dominated the first game Friday night 9-2.
Drew Van Orden, the Foresters top pitcher so far this season, struggled early on in his first outing since June 21. Two runs crossed in the first two innings for the Barons, despite Van Orden striking out the side in the second and totalling four strikeouts in the pair of innings.
After being spotted a nice lead in the middle innings, he settled in to finish with six innings pitched on 95 pitches. He struck out a Forester season-high of 11 while walking two and only allowing the two early runs.
Van Orden’s 11 strikeouts pushed his season total to 38, halfway to the Forester single season record of 75 by Tim Schoeninger in 2004. His K/9 now sits at an amazing 12.2.
A leadoff single for Trent Zaks put him on first and eventually third after an error by Van Orden on a throw over. He came home on a single by Jordan Hinshaw. The Barons put another man home in the second after a leadoff double Juan Avena and a two-out single by Kyle Ferret.
The Foresters scored in the opening frame as well thanks to a Colt Atwood leadoff single. Atwood stole second for his eighth steal of the season in just 15 games and reached third as the catcher’s throw down lacked a receiver, resulting in an error. He came home on an RBI groundout by Ben Johnson.
In the third inning, the Foresters pulled ahead with two runs thanks to errors by Barons pitcher Jared Robinson and Justin Broussard. Ben Johnson walked to lead off the inning, his 14th walk of the season. Louie Lechich followed up with a single, and the errors allowed Garrett Mattlage and Joey Epperson to reach.
The damage could have been more severe, but Shane Hoelscher lined to second, Epperson could not get back to first resulting in a double play and the end of the threat.
Another two-spot in the fourth chased Robinson, as Jerry McClanahan and Keaton Jones opened the inning with singles. After Colt Atwood moved the runners over with the groundout, Johnson tripled in both to push the score to 5-2. Johnson finished the day 1-for-3 with four RBIs, two runs scored and two walks.
Wilson Lavendier replaced Robinson and after Louie Lechich popped out, Joey Epperson singled in Johnson and Mattlage, who had walked, to push the score up to 7-2 heading into the fifth.
Santa Barbara continued the offensive onslaught, scoring two more in the fifth to make it 9-2. Hoelscher walked and Ryan O’Hearn was hit by a pitch. Lavendier departed for Taylor Lobdell, who proceeded allow a single for Jones, allowed a run on a passed ball and walked a pair to force another run in.
It got Ricey in the late innings for the Foresters, as a pair of Owls pitchers came in to throw the seventh and eighth innings. Jordan Stephens made his Forester debut, pitching the seventh and Rice teammate Blake Fox entered in the eighth. Stephens struck out two while Fox totalled one.