It’s time for Foresters baseball in Santa Barbara

Coach Bill Pintard reconnects with the Forester mascot

National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame coach Bill Pintard tells his Forester players to make sure they have fun with the game day in and day out.

BY ALEC NOLAN
The defending national-champion Santa Barbara Foresters open their 2015 season with the hopes of bringing home a sixth National Baseball Congress title.

The Foresters kick off their season against the San Diego Waves on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

NBC Hall of Fame coach Bill Pintard returns for what should be another thrilling season. With more than 800 wins, five national championships and nearly 40 Forester alumni involved with major league organizations, Pintard is one of the most successful coaches in summer semipro baseball history. Under his leadership, the Foresters always have the potential to win the NBC World Series title.

“Every summer our roster turns over and you have to adjust to a new team and their strengths,” he said. “Last year we could really hit, but some times teams change and you have to find different ways to win with each group of guys.”

Pintard will look to put together another winning formula. His roster will change over the next few weeks as the team picks up players from college teams ending their seasons in the NCAA Tournament.

Pintard explained how vital their pitching staff and clutch hitting will be in order for the club to reach the ultimate goal of yet another championship.

Power on the Mound

Last year, the Foresters pitching staff posted an impressive 2.58 ERA, and 510 strikeouts through 478 innings. Troy Cruz, a junior out of UC San Diego, returns to the staff. He ascended to the primary role of closer last year during Santa Barbara’s title run.

Pintard is rebuilding the pitching staff this season. He will look to newcomers like 6-6 Florida International University sophomore Cody Crouse to fill a starting role.

In his first year of collegiate ball, Crouse finished with a record of 4-3 and a 2.33 ERA in 72.2 innings pitched. A 19th-round selection by the New York Mets in 2013, Crouse elected to attend college and will look to improve under Pintard’s tutelage.

Veterans and Newcomers

In their run to the NBC title last season, the Foresters batted .285, with 24 home runs, 103 doubles, and a .787 on-base percentage. They will look to maintain this offensive production with returning players like Texas State junior Granger Studdard and Tulane senior Jeremy Montalbano. Studdard batted .332 and was the team leader in RBIs (49), doubles (16) and triples (6), while racking up five homers, second best on the team.

Pintard is excited to bring back both players and hopes they provide leadership on and off the field for the younger players.

Among the talented newcomers, Ryan Chandler of Rice University will look to be an offensive catalyst. The center fielder started in all 53 games for the Owls this year and posted a .297 batting average with 20 multi-hit games.

“Ryan is a heck of a lead-off guy and can do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball,” Pintard said. “His biggest obstacle will be adjusting to using a wooden bat, but we see him being a sparkplug in the lineup.”

Mississippi State junior transfer Michael Smith is another promising newcomer. In junior college last year, he led his team with a .331 average, with 40 runs, 36 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases. He also had 4 HRs, 3 triples and a .517 slugging percentage.

Pintard hopes Chandler and Smith can provide versatility and work as five tool-type players.

He said the coaching staff is confident they have rounded up another bright and talentd group of young men who are hungry to reclaim another title.

Pressure at the Top

Coming off a championship season, the Foresters are well aware of the target on their backs, and they welcome the challenge of trying to repeat as national champions as they did in 2011 and 2012.

While the championships are great, Pintard noted the most important things to accomplish during the summer season are upholding Santa Barbara’s reputation as a group of talented and intelligent individuals, send the players back to their respected schools better than when they arrived, and to have fun with the game day in and day out.

“We want to put the best product possible out on that field each and every day and, when it’s all said and done, we want these young men to leave here as better players and most importantly as better people,” said Pintard.

2015 SCHEDULE

May 30 San Diego Waves, 4:30 p.m.
May 31 San Diego Waves, 1 p.m.
June 4 at Santa Paula Halos, 5:30 p.m.
June 5 OC Riptide, 5:05 p.m.
June 6 OC Riptide, 5:05 p.m.
June 7 Valley Bears, 2 p.m.
June 9 Neptune Bach Pearl, 5:05 p.m.
June 10 Neptune Beach Pearl, 5:05 p.m.
June 11 Neptune Beach Pearl, 5:05 p.m.
June 12 at So Cal Catch (La Mirada), 5 p.m.
June 13 at So Cal Catch (La Mirada), 5 p.m.
June 14 at So Cal Catch (La Mirada), TBD
June 18 Santa Paula Halos, 5:30 p.m.
June 19 South Coast Saints, 5:05 p.m.
June 20 South Coast Saints, 5:05 p.m.
June 21 South Coast Saints, 1 p.m.
June 23 Conejo Oaks, 5:05 p.m.
June 24 at Conejo Oaks, 5 p.m.
June 25 Conejo Oaks, 5:05 p.m.
June 26 Walnut Creek Crawdads, 5:05 p.m.
June 27 Walnut Creek Crawdads, 5:05 p.m.
June 28 Walnut Creek Crawdads, 1 p.m.
June 30 Santa Paula Halos, 5:05 p.m.
July 2 Rawlings California Cup, TBD
July 3 Rawlings California Cup
July 4 Rawlings California Cup
July 5 Rawlings California Cup
July 7 Pacific Union Capitalists, 5:05 p.m.
July 8 Pacific Union Capitalists, 5:05 p.m.
July 9 Pacific Union Capitalists, 5:05 p.m.
July 10 MLB Academy, 5:05 p.m.
July 11 MLB Academy, 5:05 p.m.
July 12 MLB Academy, 1 p.m.
July 15 CCL All-Star Game, 7 p.m.
July 16 at SLO Blues, 6 p.m.
July 17 Menlo Park Legends, 5:05 p.m.
July 18 Menlo Park Legends, 5:05 p.m.
July 19 Menlo Park Legends, 1 p.m.
July 22 at L.A. Brewers, Glendale, 4 p.m.
July 23 at L.A. Brewers, Glendale, 5 p.m.
July 24 at L.A. Brewers, Glendale, 5 p.m.
July 25 SLO Blues, 5 p.m.
July 26 SLO Blues, 1 p.m.

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