Foresters win one for Wyatt, 4-0

Wyatt Taylor was everywhere on Tuesday.

He was on the mound throwing the first pitch (a strike), in the dugout giving high-fives to players, running to home plate to grab bats and on the public address system calling out raffle ticket numbers — he even got on the radio and said hello to listeners.

After all, it was Wyatt’s day, and the Santa Barbara Foresters did their part to make it special by picking up a 4-0 win at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium over the visiting Fontanetti’s Athletics from San Jose.

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Wyatt, a fourth-grader at Brandon School, has been battling lymphoma since March, and a total of $2,400 was raised via ticket and raffle sales to help pay his medical bills. Foresters manager Bill Pintard added more than monetary support — he shaved his head as shiny-bald as Wyatt’s on Monday afternoon.

“It was an awesome day,” said Pintard. “This is a kid whose facing something much tougher than a slider, and we want to give him all the love and support we can to help him get better. It’s good for my players too, because it gives them perspective.”

Tim Kelley’s performance on the mound was as smooth as Pintard’s head, as the big Wichita State righty threw eight shutout innings of five-hit ball, striking out six.

“He was outstanding. I don’t know exactly how many first-pitch strikes he had, but he was getting ahead of those guys from the start,” said Pintard.

The modest Kelley said that a wide strike zone helped him out, but the Tulsa native had more important words about the significance of the team’s Hugs For Cubs Foundation and the things it does for kids like Wyatt.

“It’s just great to be a part of that and to see all the joy on his face today,” said Kelley.

First baseman James Wharton was the big bat on the day, going 3-for-3 with two doubles. The first, which drove in Matt Castellito for Santa Barbara’s first run in the second inning, would have been a triple if Wharton didn’t trip while rounding second. Matt Valaika was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, and the Foresters stole a total of four bases.

The most impressive base-running play came in the eighth inning, when Ryan Goetz scored from second base on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter David Harris.

The Foresters (8-2) are off to their most dominant pitching start ever, according to Pintard. The staff has a jaw-dropping ERA of 1.03 through 10 games, recording 99 strikeouts while allowing just five doubles and one home run. Tuesday’s nine hits were an improvement offensively, but the bats still aren’t where they are expected to be come mid-season.

“Pitching, defense and two-out hits win championships. Our pitching has been outstanding and we didn’t commit any errors today, so once those bats start up watch out,” said Pintard.

BOX SCORE

The Foresters will take on Fontanetti’s one more time at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

While it won’t officially be “Wyatt Taylor Day” anymore, this whole season belongs to him and all the other kids supported by Hugs For Cubs.

Donations for the Taylors can be sent via check (made out to Wyatt) to:

Santa Barbara Foresters/Hugs For Cubs

4299 Carpinteria Ave. Suite 201

Carpinteria, CA 93013

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