Foresters slip up against Bee Jays, lose 8-2

WICHITA — The two-minute bus ride back to the hotel seemed a lot longer than that on Saturday night.

The Santa Barbara Foresters let one go against the rival Liberal (KS) Bee Jays at Lawrence Dumont Stadium, failing to make big plays in the field and allowing Liberal starter Paul Gonzales to win with off-speed pitches in a 8-2 defeat. The loss sends the Foresters to the loser’s bracket with a bitter taste in their mouths, as the Bee Jays knocked Santa Barbara out of the tournament last season.

BOX SCORE

“This one hurts. I think we gave it away, because we botched two double-play balls and it should have been a 1-1 ballgame,” said manager Bill Pintard.

The exclamation point came on a grand slam by Liberal first baseman Blake Bergeron in the top of the ninth.

Liberal's Nick Cocking slides into second under shortstop Shane Kroker (photos courtesy of SB Foresters.)

“That grand slam was not the story of the game. The story of the game was our inability to execute offensively and defensively and our inability to make adjustments,” said Pintard.

Walker Moore put Santa Barbara on the board first with a solo homer to left field with one out in the bottom of the second. Liberal responded with an RBI from Edwin Arroyo in the bottom of the third. Arroyo, the Bee Jays shortstop, had four hits on the night.

The top of the sixth began with Ryan Hawthorne relieving starter Tom Lemke, who gave up five hits, two walks, two runs (one unearned) in five innings pitched, getting out of jams thanks to a pair of double plays. Hawthorne struck out the first batter he faced before walking Sam Konnoff. A tailor-made double-play ball was booted to extend the inning, and Liberal ended up with runners on second and third with two outs. A relatively routine play at first base was then bobbled as two runs scored. Although it was scored a single, it was a play that Pintard said should have been made.

“We didn’t make plays that we normally make… I don’t know if it was the crowd or whether we were flat or what,” said Pintard.

The inning finally ended when catcher Patric Tolentino threw out a would-be base-stealer. He torched three runners on the night.

“It is what it is. We wanted to come out and beat these guys because they beat us last year, but at the same time we’re a talented group and we’ve got a lot of studs on this team,” said Tolentino. “We lost, but now we’re gonna come through the losers bracket flying. We’re just gonna run through a few teams and see what happens.”

After the grand slam, Michael Ratterree hit a solo homer to left field to cut the lead by a run, but it wasn’t enough. Gonzales used his curveball and change-up to deal eight innings of 5-hit ball, allowing one earned run while striking out seven and walking three.

“The guy pitched backwards, and we couldn’t make any adjustments. He was throwing his change-up, his splitter and we couldn’t adjust,” said Pintard. “This was a very uncharacteristic game for our season, and unfortunately we picked a bad time to have it.”

Santa Barbara plays the Derby (KS) Twins in an elimination game at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.

Note: Instead of AM 1490, the game will be broadcast on AM 990. It will also be available, as always, on sbforesters.org.

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