By Matt Mitchell
The Foresters are trying to start a new tradition; it’s called Walk-Off Thursday.
For the second consecutive Thursday, the Santa Barbara Foresters (14-7) won in walk-off fashion, knocking off the Ventura Halos 6-5. Pinch-hitter Evan Lee drove in Walker Grisanti with a two-out, 3-2 single to right field.
“Walk-off Thursday?” Foresters manager Bill Pintard asked. “I like the sound of that. It was exciting. Nothing like a walk-off.”
Santa Barbara was cruising 5-1 through seven innings when errors nearly cost the Foresters for the second night in a row. The trouble struck in the eighth, as the Halos tacked on a pair of runs against reliever Colton “Fish” Follett, who had been stellar for the Foresters in previous appearances. Corey Herndon came on to pitch the ninth for Santa Barbara and the Halos came back to tie the game, in large part due to a pair of errors. Santa Barbara committed four errors for the second night in a row.
“We’ve got to clean that stuff up,” Pintard said. “But we found a way to get a win tonight.
“We dodged a bullet tonight. We got the win but we nearly gave it away. I’m happy but I’m also disappointed in how he played down the stretch. We’ve got to pick it up.”
Herndon came back out for the tenth inning and shut down the Ventura bats, setting the stage for another Foresters walk-off. With two outs and a runner at third, Lee drilled a line drive into right field to drive in Grisanti for the winning-run.
“In college, I’ve had probably five or six pinch-hit at-bats in the ninth inning, so I’m kind of used to it,” Foresters pinch-hitter Evan Lee said. “I just took the same approach and wanted to see some pitches. I finally got the pitch I thought I could drive and I got it.”
Starting pitcher Jake McDonald had one of his best outings of the season. The big righty pitched a little over 6 and 2/3 innings with six strikeouts, only one walk and no earned runs on just four hits.
“It was the best he’s pitched all year,” Pintard said. “He’s been working with coach [Dylan] Axelrod and he’s been smoothing things out. As he got going he even got a little bit better.”
Other Foresters heroes for the night included John McMillon, who had a mammoth home run over the right field fence early in the game and second basemen Luke Ritter, who had a three-hit night.
The Foresters will resume play tomorrow night at 6 p.m. as they take on the Neptune Beach Pearl at Pershing Park.
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