With a spot in the Rawlings California Cup championship game nearly locked up heading into Saturday’s game, the Conejo Oaks pushed the Santa Barbara Foresters as far as they possibly could before losing in one of the oddest ways.
With the bases loaded and two outs, the first pitch to Garrett Mattlage hit him and forced in the game-winning run. The walk off win secured a spot for the Foresters in the Rawlings Cup final, which will now be at 2 p.m. on Sunday against the San Luis Obispo Blues.
Quickly ending the Oaks championship game chances, the Foresters scored three in the first inning. To advance, the Oaks needed to shutout the Foresters and beat them by at least 10 runs.
After a Garrett Mattlage single and Joey Epperson walked, Louie Lechich added to his team-leading RBI total with a two-out double. Ryan O’Hearn followed up with his own two-out double to take an early 3-0 lead. Lechich finished the game 3-for-4, with two RBIs, one runs scored and one walk.
However, the Oaks would make life difficult for the Foresters despite their elimination. A three-run homer in the third for Bryan Langlois brought the score even, but the Foresters responded quickly to retake the lead at 4-3.
In the bottom half of the third, Santa Barbara had men on second and third with two outs and a wild pitch by Oaks pitcher Luke Eubank scored Jacob Felts.
Texas lefty Ty Culbreth took the mound for the Foresters, pitching only four and two-thirds innings. Culbreth breezed through the first two innings, but slipped up with the homer to Langlois and another run on two doubles in the fifth inning before he was pulled.
Nick Kern, a national champion with UCLA this past college season, entered to wrap up the fifth inning with a strikeout of Langlois. Kern remained in the game and retired two men in the sixth before being removed for Tejay Antone.
However, Antone’s performance did not go as well as Kern’s did as the Oaks recorded back to back doubles, tying the game at five in the sixth inning. Antone remained in the game to pitch the seventh, retiring the Oaks in order.
Austen Williams then entered in the top of the eighth and tightroped out of a tough inning. Men on first and third with two outs in the inning, Williams picked off Mitchell Tolman at first base to escape.