Woods okay, Foresters win 3-1

The Santa Barbara Foresters beat the visiting Santa Maria Packers 3-1 on Saturday, but the biggest victory occurred when Gary Woods walked out of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium under his own power.

The Forester hitting coach took a hard-hit foul ball off the bat of Matt Valaika directly to the forehead in the fourth inning, causing play to be stopped for about five minutes. The ball was sent screaming into the dugout, and it was reported that it made a frightening sound when it struck Woods.

“I was just trying to get out of the way, so I didn’t really see it… It was bad,” said third baseman Drew Maggi, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the leadoff spot.

An ambulance was called for Woods, who was bleeding and was expected to require stitches. Other than that, he appeared to be okay.

“He split his head open pretty good, but he’s a tough old bird so I think he’ll be alright,” said manager Bill Pintard, who went to visit the ex-Major Leaguer in the hospital after the game.

There were two fantastic plays in the game the stood out from the rest. The first occurred in the first inning, when Davis Duren stole home to score the Foresters’ second run.

BOX SCORE

“I saw the pitcher was pretty slow out of the wind-up, and I saw the first pitch go by and thought I had a chance at the next one,” said Duren, who started the game at first base (he’s traditionally a second baseman) and unfortunately tweaked his hamstring on the slide and came out a couple of innings later.

“It’s crazy. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, so it got my heart going,” he said.

The Foresters had already accomplished the rare maneuver twice on the season, but Vinnie St. John made a defensive play in the third that Pintard said happens about once every five years.

Santa Maria’s Justin Trejo hit a one-hop would-be single to St. John in right field, and the strong-armed Forester fired to Duren at first base to record the out.

It’s not often you see a 9-to-3 put out in the scorebook.

Ramada Limited - Official Hotel of the Santa Barbara Foresters!“We’ve been talking about that with him for awhile. He has an above-average Major League arm, and when you play hard stuff like that happens,” said Pintard.

Like Duren’s play, it was a first-time feat for St. John.

“This summer was the first time I ever even thought to do it. There were a couple of other times this summer when I had line drives come to me and Coach Pinner told me to just let it go. I knew I had a chance,” said St. John.

The Foresters managed just three hits on the day but used their signature aggressive base-running to produce the runs. Maggi led off with a single and scored on a sac bunt by James Wharton to put the hosts on the board, and Duren’s big steal followed shortly thereafter. Maggi drove in Tim Maitland on an RBI single in the fifth.

The Packers, meanwhile, had nine base knocks on the day but could only convert once on Brice Cutspec’s RBI single which scored Ben Ornelas in the top of the fifth.

“They had nine hits, but our pitchers did a really great job of getting out of jams. Our guys are playing hard right now,” said Pintard, whose team clinched its seventh consecutive California Collegiate League title up in Santa Maria on Friday night.

Maggi, whose younger brother Beau played catcher in the game, said that motivation is not in short supply despite the team having already clinched the title.

“I don’t think about what winning the game does or doesn’t mean,” he said. “I just go out there and try to compete with the pitcher in every single at-bat.”

Matt Leonard, who had pitched a no-hitter in his previous start last weekend on the road against the San Luis Obispo Rattlers, allowed five hits in four shutout innings. He gave way to Kevin Dickey, who was charged with one run on three hits in two innings. Matt Evers was stellar out of the bullpen once again, striking out two in two perfect innings before Matt Hutchison came in to pick up his sixth save.

The Foresters (33-9-1, 16-4) host the Packers (21-20-1, 7-13) at 1 p.m. Sunday. All games are broadcast on AM 1490 KIST and www.sbforesters.org.

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