Foresters end 7-0 Wichita run with national title

The Santa Barbara Foresters in Wichita this week.

WICHITA — With tears in his eyes, manager Bill Pintard stood on the field at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and hoisted the National Baseball Congress World Series championship trophy for the third time on Saturday.

The Santa Barbara Foresters defeated the Kenai (AK) Oilers 1-0 to finish off a perfect 7-0 run in the two-week tournament and take the throne for the first time since 2008.

“I’m more emotional than I was the other two times, because I’m just so proud of this team,” said Pintard. “We had more doubts this year than others, but it all just came together and I couldn’t be happier.”

Mitch Mormann was named player of the game for pitching seven-plus shutout innings, allowing just four hits. Right-hander Spenser Messmore came in for him with a runner on first base and no one out in the top of the eighth, proceeding to retire six straight batters and close out the game.

Messmore, a skinny 170-pound reliever out of Cal State Baskersfield, gave up just one hit and struck out five in four clutch innings of work in the tournament.

“On a scale from 1-10 my nerves were about an eight when I was in the bullpen, but once I got out there my fastball had movement and I found my rhythm,” he said.

The only run of the game came on an RBI by Jeff McVaney in the first inning. Brett Vertigan led off with a single, and a bunt single by Jeff McNeil followed it up, moving Vertigan to third. McVaney, who led the team in RBIS with nine in the tourney, hit an infield ground ball to end the day’s scoring.

Defensive highlights included a 9-5 putout by right fielder Joe Wallace, who used his cannon arm to nab Nate Ring trying to slide in safely at third. With Kenai runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, first baseman snagged a low-flying line drive and stepped on the bag to end the threat.

The Foresters were set to take the bus back home to Santa Barbara, and the trophy with it, on Sunday afternoon.