by Nate Loop
The Foresters got behind early against the San Diego Waves and were unable to stage a comeback, falling by the score of 5-2 and dropping the first series of the season two games to one.
The Waves continued their pattern of putting up early runs against the Foresters, getting to Foresters starting pitcher Brandon Pierce for 3 runs in the first inning.
Shortstop Brett Balkan led off with a single, then Pierce walked Cody Lenahan and Jim Maxwell to load the bases. Catcher Audie Afenir stepped into the box and hit a dribbler up to first that Forester legend Chris Keoper bobbled, reaching on the error and allowing Balkan to score. Tim Rowley then hit into a fielder’s choice, 6-4 forcing out Afenir at second, but Lenahan scored on the play. Aaron Machbitz then hit a medium line drive to allow Jim Maxwell to score from third, and the Waves were up 3-0 right away, which turned out to be all they would need.
The Waves pitching trio of David Johnson, Thomas Estermeyer, and Thomas Reilly kept the Foresters bats quiet for the most part, spreading out seven hits over nine innings, and giving up just two runs on the day.
The Foresters got their first run back in the bottom of the second inning. With the bases empty, right fielder Kevin Cannon, a UCSB product, crushed a 1-1 pitch that easily cleared the fence in right field, the ball traveling the necessary 335 feet and then some. The solo home run cut the lead to 3-1 for the Waves, and was the first home run of the season for the ‘Sters.
Pierce who looked shaky coming out of the gate, found his stride and settled in to a smooth finish to his afternoon. It just took a trip through the lineup in the first inning for Pierce to figure out what the Waves batters were bringing to the game, as he was able to spread out two hits over the next four innings, racking up seven strikeouts along the way.
Righthander Thomas Lemke then came in to pitch the 6th and 7th innings for the ‘Sters. Lemke, a 6-foot 8-inch power pitcher out of the University of Nebraska, is in his third season with the team.
The Waves tacked on another run in the top of the 7th inning. Balkan reached on an error by shortstop Steven Reveles. Lenahan hit a grounder that escaped the infield, moving Balkan to second. Lemke then induced a 4-6-3 double play ball from Maxwell, and Balkan moved up to third. However, Audie Afenir jumped on the first pitch from Lemke and lined a single into left field, scoring _ from third and stretching Waves advantage to 4-1.
In the 8th inning, with Thomas Reilly pitching for the Waves, Foresters designated hitter Nick Melino led off with a single. After a strikeout from third baseman Zach Fish, second baseman Nico Garcia singled to right, but Melino was thrown out trying to move from first to third. Garcia then stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch from Reilly, cutting the Waves lead to 4-2.
Top of the 9th inning saw Waves third baseman Cody Lenahan crush a pitch for a solo home run off of ‘Sters reliever Brandon Shoemake. The hit was nearly a carbon copy of Cannon’s earlier blast, crossing the fence just inside the right field foul pole, making the score 5-2 to the Waves.
This prompted another pitching change for the ‘Sters, as Manager Bill Pintard brought in righthander Michael Kwan, who had pitched the previous day, to get the final two outs of the 9th inning.
There was no rally to be had for the Foresters in the bottom of 9th inning as they stranded Koeper, who reached on an error, and the 5-2 scoreline stood and sent the San Diego Waves packing their bags and leaving Santa Barbara with a series win in their pockets.
The Foresters were proud to host some future baseball stars (or maybe ‘Sters?) from the Dos Pueblos Little League today.
The Foresters now hit the road for their first California Collegiate League games of the season, as they take on the MLB Academy team down in Compton, California for a mid-week three game series beginning Tuesday, June 5th.