Foresters scorch, chop down Oaks 12-0

Casey McMurray steals homeStealing home takes a certain amount of swagger and aggressiveness, which are both qualities that the Santa Barbara Foresters have in ample supply.

Second-year player Casey McMurray stole three bases in Tuesday’s 12-0 drubbing of the visiting Conejo Oaks, including a second-inning swipe of home in which he challenged Scott Bachman and his fastball in a race to the plate.

“I asked (third base coach Casey Cloud) to time the pitcher’s wind-up and it was nearly three seconds, so I told him I was gonna go for it,” said McMurray, a standout for the University of Illinois.

In his next at-bat, McMurray was hit square on the knee by a pitch and hobbled to first base.

“It was getting stiff, so I figured I should keep it moving and I stole second,” he said.

It wasn’t just the base-running that fueled the blowout, as the Foresters were stellar in every aspect of the game.

Starter Tim Kelley tossed a three-hit shutout through five innings before being relieved, showing considerable toughness by getting out of jams. He allowed the first two Oaks batters of the game to reach base but escaped unscathed. Conejo (13-9, 6-7 CCL) had runners on first and third with no outs in the fifth, but the Wichita State hurler promptly struck out the next two batters swinging and induced a pop-up to dance out of danger again.

BOX SCORE – PHOTO GALLERY

The infield made tough defensive plays look easy the whole time, ending up flawless except for a hard-luck error by shortstop Drew Maggi late in the game. Maggi, however, made up for it by leading the offense, going 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.

Sam Spangler and Nick Di Napoli took the reins for Kelley and allowed just one hit over the final four innings of the game.

“We had pitching, we had defense and we had base-running galore. It was a great day for us,” said coach Bill Pintard. “Casey stealing home was wonderful. He and Casey Cloud teamed up on it and it’s something we’ve talked about. The pitcher has a certain time limit to get the ball to the plate, and if he’s not paying attention to us we’re gonna steal it.”

With every player having arrived and the roster all but set for the rest of the way, the national champs are really starting to settle into a groove.

Oaks starter Bachman was roughed up for eight runs on seven hits in just four innings, and it’s not because he doesn’t have good stuff — he tossed a no-hitter against the Santa Maria Pilots in his last outing.

The Foresters (16-5, 7-1) put the game away for good by scoring six runs in the sixth and batting around in the process. Big James Wharton picked up his fourth triple of the season to drive in James Meador. Ryan Goetz followed with an RBI single and Matt Valaika added an RBI double right after that. Ryan “Rhino” Hege picked up a two-RBI single two batters later and Maggi did the same before all was said and done.

Andy Workman continued to do exactly what a leadoff batter needs to do, which is get on base and run aggressively. He walked twice and singled in his four at-bats, stealing two bases in the process.

The Foresters were struggling at this point last year before mounting a second-half surge that lasted all the way to the championship game of the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, which they won for the second time in three years.

“You can’t worry about peaking early or anything like that. You just play one at a time and try to stay honed up and playing to our standards,” said Pintard.

The Foresters hit the road to play Conejo down in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday before returning home for the series finale on Thursday. All games are broadcast on AM 1490 KIST and www.sbforesters.org.

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