The Santa Barbara Foresters went down 3-0 to the young California Wahoos before rallying to win 9-4 on Wednesday night in Santa Barbara.
Through six innings, the heavily favored Foresters were neck-and-neck with the Wahoos, a collection of the top high school prospects in the Central Coast region. Santa Barbara broke the game open in the seventh inning when Jared Womack (Oklahoma State), Brett Vertigan (UCSB), and Christian Summers (Texas), all had RBI-singles.
Kirby Bellow (Texas) started the game for the Foresters and pitched six innings. The lefty gave up three runs on five hits and struck out eight Wahoos.
“He left a couple balls up early that got hit, but he threw his breaking ball for a strike,” Foresters head coach Bill Pintard said. “I thought Bellow was good today.”
Wahoos starter Joseph Huthsing was impressive as well. Huthsing will be a senior next fall at Dos Pueblos High, and pitched four innings while giving up just one hit and no runs.
The 0-0 stalemate was broken in the fifth inning when Marc Baker (Nipomo High) singled to start a two-out rally for the Wahoos. Zach DeMarcus (Santa Ynez High) doubled to right field to bring Baker home, then an error by Summers brought two more runs in.
The Foresters responded in the bottom of the inning when Womack hit a single to score two runs, and Vertigan tied the game with a sacrifice-fly.
“I was patient and I worked the count,” Womack said about his three-RBI performance. “I got pretty good pitches to hit and thankfully a couple of them fell through.”
The game stayed even until the Wahoos had a calamitous seventh inning in which they used three pitchers and gave up four runs. In the eighth, Michael Ratterree (Rice) erased any hope of an upset by crushing a two-run home run over the center-field fence.
Matt Vedo (UCSB) relieved Bellow and earned the win to improve to 1-2 on the season. Vedo pitched three innings and allowed one run on two hits while striking out three batters.
Wednesday night was the last non-league game for the Foresters (34-11 overall, 22-10 CCL) who will travel to Compton for a California Collegiate League match-up with the MLB Academy Barons tomorrow night at . They will then return home on Friday for the final series of the season against Team Vegas.
Every remaining game for the Foresters presents an opportunity to keep their slim half-game lead over the San Luis Obispo Blues and win their 17th CCL title.
All Forester games are broadcast on AM 990 KTMS and on www.sbforesters.org.
GAME NOTES: Blake Brown left the game in the third inning after an injury to his finger… Wahoos pitcher/outfielder Ryan McNeil was an Aflac All-American out of Nipomo High School this past season… Jeff McNeil, Robert Vickers, Riley Moore, and Chase Yost are all former Wahoos.