The Santa Barbara Foresters hosted the Conejo Oaks for the first time this season on Friday evening at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and welcomed the visitors with a dominant 19-2 victory.
In their previous series against the San Luis Obispo Blues earlier this week, the Foresters only managed two runs in three games. The National and CCL champions bounced back by scoring two or more runs in five of the nine innings against the Oaks – as if to say that the last couple games were a fluke on their part rather than a sudden drop in confidence or hitting ability.
“We’ll find out tomorrow,” Foresters Head Coach Bill Pintard said when asked if their offensive production was a sign of things to come. “One game doesn’t make a season just like our two games against San Luis Obispo (Blues) doesn’t make a season. It’s the body of work but it could be the start and I’m really glad to see it.”
The Oaks initially took the first lead of the game when first baseman Eric Fisher drove in Denver Chavez with a single in the top of the first inning. The lead would barely last an inning as the Foresters roared back with 15 unanswered runs: one in the 2 nd, four in the 3rd, three in the 4th, and five in the 5th before eventually adding five more in the 7th and one more in the 8th.
The Foresters opened their scoring with an infield RBI single from left fielder Fish in the bottom of the second, but that turned out to just be an appetizer for the bottom of the third that resulted in five runs.
Shortstop Cal Vogelsang led off the third with a single and Arby Fields immediately followed with a walk to set the table for the heart of the order. A sharply hit RBI single to right field by Austin Davidson drove in Vogelsang to give the Foresters the lead for good.
The next two batters – Ryan O’Hearn hit a screamer off the wall and Luke Plucheck doubled down the line- combined for back-to-back doubles to drive in Fields, Davidson and O’Hearn and give the Foresters a 5-1 lead.
Behind the equally notable performance of the pitching staff, the Foresters never looked back. Brandon Pierce – who battled flu-like symptoms before the game – went an impressive five innings giving up just one earned on three hits while the bullpen gave up just one more run the rest of the way.
“He had been throwing up before the game, he was a little sick,” Pintard said. “He wasn’t feeling a 100 percent and for him to go out and pitch 5 innings was enough – we didn’t need to push it anymore.”
Conejo Oaks head coach David Soliz conceded that their struggle to throw strikes combined with the Foresters play contributed to their loss.
Soliz said, “It was a combination of them playing very well, us struggling to throw strikes and struggling to make plays and at the end of the day, those things combine for a loss.”
Taylor Stell, Grant Pearson, Grant Davis, O’Hearn and Vogelsang all had multi-hit games while O’Hearn and Vogelsang also drove in three runs each. In all, the Foresters managed 19 runs on 16 hits and most importantly, 17 runs more than they managed in their last three games combined.
Like Coach Pintard implied, the bats might’ve just woken up and that certainly is not a good sign for the rest of the California Collegiate League.
The Santa Barbara Foresters will continue their series with the Conejo Oaks tomorrow evening at 5pm when they play away at Conejo.