Foresters take third game of series against Pioneers

Left-hander Brad Kottman had a breakout performance for the Santa Barbara Foresters on Thursday night at Cesar Uyesaka Stadium.  The Rice University pitcher threw five scoreless innings in relief while striking out seven Orange County Pioneer batters to help the Foresters earn the 11-3 victory.

Riley Moore, a recent San Marcos High School graduate who has committed to Arizona, also had his finest performance of the season, going 3 for 5 from the plate with two singles and a triple.

Outfielder Nick Melino (Nevada) gave the Foresters an early offensive spark with a solo home run to right field in the first inning.  Melino unfortunately aggravated a pre-existing back injury during the at-bat and was replaced by Lance Roenicke (UCSB).

The Foresters frustrated Pioneers starting pitcher Connor Hulse (Harvard) with aggressive at-bats and aggressive base-running.  Outfielder Jeff McVaney (Texas St.) stole third base twice and finished the day with four stolen bases.

“That’s Ricky Henderson stuff,” Forester head coach Bill Pintard said of McVaney’s base running.

Hulse pitched three innings and allowed seven hits and six earned runs.  Every Forester batter, including Roenicke, reached base in the first two innings and the Foresters led 6-2 after Hulse left the game.

Richard Matamoros (Chapman) relieved Hulse in the fourth ininng and had difficulty throwing strikes.  He walked five, hit a batter and gave up three runs without ever allowing a hit.

The Foresters’ pitching did not start as well as their bats did, as starter Mitch Mormann (Wichita St.) struggled to find the strike zone.  Right-hander Spencer Messmore (Cal State Bakersfield) relieved Mormann to get the Foresters out of a jam in the fourth inning.

Messmore’s day was short, and  Kottman pitched the rest of the game for Santa Barbara.  Kottman was nearly unhittable, and threw a first-pitch strike against 14 of the 18 batters he faced.  He did not allow a run and only gave up two hits in his finest outing of the young season.

“That was his best performance,” Foresters pitching coach Dan Yokubaitis said.

“His change-up is a big time pitch,” Pintard said.  “It’s a major league change-up.”

Moore added on to his fine outing in the eighth inning by smashing a triple into right field.  Moore then added to the Foresters’ lead after he was brought home on an RBI single by Robert Vickers (SBCC).

“You can see future professional players at a young age, and he’s one of them,” Pintard said of the young catcher.

A jovial coach Pintard highlighted the significance of the win to the team’s season.

“It’s very important that we win every series,” he said.  “If we win every series, that will win us a championship.

The Pioneers (8-8 overall, 8-8 CCL) are currently tied for fourth in the CCL standings and head home to begin a three-game series against the Conejo Oaks.

The Foresters’ (13-3 overall, 9-3 CCL) early season success has gained the attention of a national audience.  Perfectgame.org ranked Santa Barbara second in the country in their first Top 25 poll of the season.  The Foresters head south to face the MLB Academy Barons in Compton Friday night at 6:30.

All Forester games are broadcast on AM 990 and sbforesters.org.

NOTES: Jeff McVaney gained some of his base-running skills while playing fullback for the Texas State football team in the fall, and baseball in the spring … Kottman was the valedictorian of his high school class and pitched for Brown University his Freshman season before transferring to Rice … The Foresters are the only California team to make pefrectgame.org’s Top 25 ranking.

 

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