The Santa Barbara Foresters baseball team is off to a great start. About a month into the season they currently sit atop the California Collegiate League (CCL) standings with an 11-4 record, 13-4 overall.
The seven-time National Baseball Congress World Series champions, headquartered in Carpinteria, hosted the San Luis Obispo Blues at their home field in Santa Barbara’s Pershing Park on June 27.
After starting pitcher Ryan Bergert shut down the visitors in the top of the first, the ‘Sters got off to a quick start in the bottom half of the inning, when leadoff hitter Christian Franklin drove a Noah Huerta pitch over the center field fence scoring his team a 1-0 lead.
“A new team, new guys, kind of a new environment, and just to lead off the game with a home run, shows these guys I can contribute to the team,” said Franklin who just recently joined the team after playing for the University of Arkansas in the College World Series.
The ‘Sters tacked on another run in the third, as left fielder Ryan Cash reached base on a walk and proceeded to steal second. Huerta won the battle with Franklin that time, striking him out, but Blake Hall came through with a gapper to right-center, stretching it for a triple and driving home Cash for a 2-0 Forester lead. Meanwhile, Bergert continued to mow down the SLO hitters, giving up only one hit and striking out four. The right-hander threw four innings, giving up no runs on two hits, walking one and striking out six to get the win.
The ‘Sters picked up another couple of runs in the sixth on another homer, this one by Conor McKenna. McKenna’s two-run towering shot over the left field wall made it a 4-0 game.
“If you go through the lineup, the hard-hit balls that we had tonight are at the top of our season so far,” said Foresters Executive Director and Head Coach Bill Pintard whose “Hugs for Cubs” program helps sponsor outings for kids with cancer. The organization was started by his son and former ‘Sters player and coach Eric Pintard, who died of the disease in 2004. The outings include trips to see major league baseball games and visits to Cottage Hospital by the Foresters players.
The home team blew the game wide open in the sixth, scoring four runs on four hits to cap off the 8-0 win. Cash got the key hit, a single to center that went under the glove of a Blues outfielder to drive in two runs. Cash ran all the way to third on the error, and later came home on another hit by Franklin. McKenna batted three-for-four on the night, scoring two runs and knocking in two. Franklin went two-for-five, scoring a run and driving in two. Hall also went two-for-four batting in a run.
SLO had difficulty figuring out the Foresters’ pitching staff, as they gathered only five hits for the game. Following Bergert’s exit, Pintard put Elijah Trest, Caden Monke, Jacob Burton and Brock Helverson all on the mound for the final five innings to preserve the win. The ‘Sters hurlers notched 13 strikeouts for the game.
“It was a complete effort. We caught the ball, we pitched the ball,” explained Pintard. “It was probably our most complete effort against a good team since the beginning of the year,” said the Carpinteria resident. Another Carpinteria resident happened to be in the Blues dugout, Derek True. True who recently graduated from Santa Barbara High School will go on to play at Cal Poly SLO after his pitching stint in the CCL. The Dons standout didn’t make an appearance in the game.