Leonard tosses second no-hitter in Foresters history

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Matt Leonard pitched just the second no-hitter in Santa Barbara Foresters history on Friday in a 4-0 California Collegiate League win over the San Luis Obispo Rattlers.

Now he owes a few people lunch.

First on the list would be the surgeon who performed his Tommy John surgery 17 months ago. Leonard needed a whopping 147 pitches to accomplish the feat, and durability was not an issue. In fact, pitching coach Dan Yokubaitis said that Leonard’s velocity increased in the last two innings.

“Every inning after the sixth I came back to the dugout and (Yokubaitis) asked me if I was okay for another inning. After the sixth, I told him I was good for another three innings,” joked Leonard.

Next on the lunch list would be his pals Drew Maggi and James Meador. Maggi, the second baseman, made a great play on a comebacker that bounced off of Leonard’s leg in the eighth, changing directions in a flash before scooping the ball up bare-handed and throwing it to James Wharton for the out at first.

Meador deserves a filet mignon after the catch he made in right field for the first out of the ninth. Bobby Buckner lifted what looked like a base hit to right-center and Meador put on a cape and made like Superman for the diving catch.

“That was awesome, man. He definitely saved it. I thought it was falling,” said Leonard.

Jeremy Rathjen almost had to buy Leonard lunch for the rest of the season in the next at-bat. Josh Jackson lifted a routine fly ball to center field and Rathjen fell down as he started towards it. The Rice University freshman quickly popped up, however, and made the catch.

Rathjen also had some pop with his bat, crushing a two-run homer to left field in the eighth inning that scored the final pair of runs for the Foresters. The game began as a pitchers duel between Cal Poly’s Leonard and Rattlers starter Joey Parsons for six scoreless innings.

Parsons was relieved by Bob Mott in the seventh, and Mott gave up a single to Patric Tolentino followed by an RBI triple to Maggi. Andy Workman scored from third later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Hege.

Ryan Goetz went 4-for-5 on the night, just a day after going 3-for-4 with a key home run against the California Wahoo. The only SLO baserunners in Friday’s game came via two walks and an error.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words. I couldn’t really draw it up better I guess, “ said Leonard, who was swarmed by his teammates after tossing the last strike. The only other Forester to toss a no-hitter was Matt Sorenson, who did so on the very same mound against the SLO Blues in 2000.

“Anytime you see something like that you’re really thankful to be involved in the game of baseball,” said Associate Head Coach Pat Burns. “I’m really proud of Matty, and he’s been one of our best pitchers all year.”

The Foresters (26-9, 10-3) now have a 2.5 game lead over the Rattlers in the CCL standings with a chance to increase it tomorrow back at SLO Baseball Stadium. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. All games are broadcast on AM 1490 KIST and www.sbforesters.org.