Vickers has his day against Stars

On Friday morning, Robert Vickers found out he would be playing baseball for Long Beach State next year. In order to celebrate, he went 2-for-3 with a mammoth solo home run in the afternoon as the Santa Barbara Foresters beat the Santa Barbara Stars 11-2 in the Rawlings California Cup.

The Foresters will play the Conejo Oaks on Saturday at 4 p.m. with a trip to the tournament championship game on the line. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, KS, in early August.

“Tomorrow’s a big, big game. Tomorrow’s our biggest game of the season so far,” said manager Bill Pintard.

The Stars were a late replacement in the tournament after the East L.A. Dodgers backed out. They are composed of players from local 21-and-over club teams. They took a 2-0 lead after Foresters starter Jason Hursh walked the first three batters of the game, followed by a wild pitch and a sacrifice groundout. Hursh didn’t allow a hit in five innings of work, however, and the only hit of the day for the Stars came on a single by Jason Trueman in the seventh.

“We’re very thankful to them. They’re part of the baseball community in Santa Barbara. [Stars Manager] Dan Catalini and all the fellas that came together to do that help make this tournament,” said Pintard.

Bryce Uhrig, a former UCSB and Foresters pitcher, played catcher and first base in the game for the Stars. He recently graduated with a business degree and plans on playing overseas next year.

Vickers is a former standout at Dos Pueblos High School, after which he committed to play at Cal State Northridge. He ended up playing his freshman season at College of the Canyons, however, before playing last season with Santa Barbara City College. He had played with the San Luis Obispo Rattlers the last two summers before the Foresters picked him up this year. He said that the decision to sign with Long Beach may have helped him on the field.

“It might have. It definitely cleared my mind a little bit and got a lot of things off my back… I’ve been waiting to sign at a school this year and I feel like I found the right one,” he said.

Vickers has not been a regular starter for the Foresters this summer but has been effective when playing in the infield. He was showcased to the Long Beach State coaches at a recent game against the Academy Barons in Compton, and made a solid impression on them with his athleticism, partticularly on a play in which he dodged a flying broken bat at third base and still recorded the out.

Vickers gave credit to the older players on the Stars for playing in the tournament.

“They played well…You have to give it up for them. Hopefully we’ll still be able to do that at their age,” he said.

The Foresters put up 16 hits in the game, and will hope for a similar output on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on AM 990 and www.sbforesters.org.

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