Griffin lifts Foresters to sweep of Rattlers, 6-2

There’s no question about who the ace of the Santa Barbara Foresters pitching staff is.

A.J. Griffin struck out eight and allowed just three hits with no walks in six innings of work Sunday as the Foresters picked up a 6-2 win to complete a 3-game sweep of the visiting San Luis Obispo Rattlers. He has now pitched 17 scoreless innings to start the summer.

“He’ll get strike one and before you sit down he’ll get strike two. You’d better get to your seats early when he’s pitching, because he’s going right after batters,” said manager Bill Pintard. “It’s really a pleasure to watch him pitch.”

The game sprinted into the seventh inning thanks to similarly impressive work from SLO starter Joey Parsons, who also allowed no runs and three hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking one.

BOX SCORE

Once Griffin and Parsons were pulled, however, things got a lot more interesting. Ex-Major Leaguer Sean Tracey — who played with the Foresters a few years ago and was back in Santa Barbara to pitch a few innings and be seen by some scouts — replaced Griffin and had control issues in the seventh. He walked the bases full and with two outs threw a wild pitch that was sure to allow the first run of the day to come home. Instead, it bounced off of the wall at the bottom of the backstop and came back perfectly to Tracey, who was charging at the plate to make the tag.

“It was amazing, because we would have had to take Sean out at that point since he was struggling a little bit finding the strike zone. We had a little ‘E.P. 19′ mojo goin’ there,” said Pintard, referring to the initials and number of his late son, Eric.

Rattlers (15-8, 8-7) reliever Richie Mirowski had no such luck in the bottom half of the inning, as he gave up five runs while recording just one out. Matt Valaika started the marathon inning off with a single before Jeremy Rathjen was hit by a pitch. Mark Castellito then laid down a nice bunt on the third-base side and an error on the throw to first allowed Valaika and Rathjen to score while Castellito came all the way around to third. Patric Tolentino and Vinnie St. John then knocked back-to-back singles and Mirowski balked and threw a wild pitch before being pulled.

The Rattlers got two back off of Sam Spangler in the top of the eighth but Castellito doubled home Valaika in the bottom half and reliever Kevin Dickey closed the door for Santa Barbara in the top of the ninth.

The Foresters (15-5, 7-2) host the Conejo Oaks in another California Collegiate League contest on Tuesday at 5 p.m. All games are broadcast on AM 1490 KIST and www.sbforesters.org.

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