Foresters double up on Waves in season opener

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Patience at the plate and aggressive base running powered the Santa Barbara Foresters past the San Diego Waves on Saturday in a come-from-behind Opening Day win. The Foresters beat the Waves 8-4 at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.


The Foresters featured a young, speedy lineup, succeeding in eight of nine stolen base attempts while limiting the Waves to just one stolen base.

“Our running game was relentless,” Forester manager Bill Pintard said after the game. “We aren’t going to hit a lot of home runs this year, so it’s important for our guys to see that we can win without hitting the long ball, we can win with speed.”

Despite the stellar base running performance by the Foresters, the Waves struck first when leadoff hitter Brice Savage crushed Santa Barbara starter Ty Culbreth’s fifth pitch of the game over the right field wall.

The Foresters responded in the bottom of the first inning when Ben Johnson walked, stole second and third, then scored on a wild pitch.

The Waves put up two runs in their half of the second inning, but gave up a triple to Forester first baseman Shane Crawford in the bottom of the second. Crawford scored when third baseman Tyler Cohen singled him in.

San Diego extended its lead to 4-2 in the top of the third inning, but did not score again the rest of the game. Culbreth settled down to pitch a 1-2-3 fourth inning, then was relieved by Patrick Weigel, who pitched five innings of shutout baseball.

“He came up big,” Pintard said of Weigel. “He’s one of the youngest guys on our team, and he’s refreshing. He plays with unabashed enthusiasm.”

Originally from Camarillo, the eighteen-year-old Weigel was a freshman at the University of the Pacific this year, appearing in 20 games for the Tigers. In his first outing for the Foresters on Saturday, he had four strikeouts and allowed just three hits.

“I just wanted to come into the game and give my team a chance to get back in the game and win,” Weigel said. “I knew out there on the mound that if I just let them hit it, my defense was going to get outs.”

Behind Weigel’s stellar pitching performance, the Foresters rallied to score at least one run in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Crawford led the way for the Foresters with two extra-base hits, two RBIs, and a run scored. Both of Crawford’s hits came with two outs, and his game-tying double in the fifth inning came with two runners in scoring position.

“It was pretty awesome,” Crawford said of his first game with the Foresters. “I just went out there trying to stay calm and produce for my team.”

Pintard was impressed with Crawford’s performance, particularly his offensive timeliness.

“He was outstanding,” Pintard said. “[Crawford] came up with two-out base hits. Two-out base hits win championships.”

Cohen and Chris Stroh also had multi-hit games for the ‘Sters. But according to Crawford, walks were huge for the Foresters.

“Everybody on this team has a lot of patience at the plate,” he said. “We wait for out pitch and make them throw strikes when they aren’t.”

The Foresters drew a combined 12 walks off of four Wave pitchers, including three from both leadoff hitter Johnson and cleanup batter Shane Rowland.

Pintard cited the importance of winning the first game of the season. He also said that it was even more significant because it came against a quality team.

“That’s a good team,” Pintard said of the Waves. “They go to the NBC tournament almost every year. So we beat an NBC quality team, which was huge. It is important to get that first win and to start 1–0. The ultimate goal is how we finish, not how we start, but it was a really good start.”

The Foresters have another game against the Waves at UCSB on Sunday at 1 p.m., then have a day off before hosting the North County Indians on Tuesday.