Griffin tosses complete game gem at Pershing

Tim MaitlandA year ago, A.J. Griffin was a closer used to working one inning per appearance.

The good-humored hurler went all nine on Saturday, needing just 99 pitches to do it in the Santa Barbara Foresters’ 6-2 Independence Day win over the San Jose Seals at Pershing Park.

“He’s a fun guy, but that doesn’t get in the way of him doing his work,” said manager Bill Pintard. “He just has a lot of fun living life. We set it up for him to pitch this game, and I hate losing this game on the Fourth at Pershing Park, so I put my money on No. 35. He’s a horse.”

It was a beautiful day with a strong turnout down by the beach, but it started off on a sour note for the Foresters as a costly error at first base ut the Seals up 2-0 in the top of the second.

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Brandon Loy picked up an RBI double in the bottom half to cut the lead to one run, and Tim Maitland came in to score on a single by Andy Workman in the fifth.

Griffin, meanwhile, was rhytmic, composed and unfazeable on the mound as the first-pitch strikes became almost automatic.

“His infielders love to play behind him, because he’s gonna put the ball in play and the tempo is going to be quick. It’s old school baseball, and he pitches the way you should by getting ahead with his fastball,” said Pintard.

While his arm showed considerable endurance (his velocity stayed steady the whole way through), his shoes didn’t. The University of San Diego righty had to switch pairs halfway through the game due to some wear and tear.

“My shoe was getting torn up pretty bad and my foot was hurting a little bit, so I had another pair of spikes with a pitching toe on them that I switched to,” he said.

The Foresters all but put the game away with a one-out rally in the sixth, scoring four runs with help from a walk, a hit batter, a balk, a wild pitch and an error from the Seals. San Jose almost got a run back in the eighth, but Workman made a highlight-reel throw from left field that nabbed AJ Almarez and ended the inning.

The two teams square off again Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. All games are broadcast on AM 1490 KIST and www.sbforesters.org.

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