The righthander from Missouri (pictured above) crafted a gem, one of the best-pitched games in the Foresters’ long history at this national championship tournament. After allowing two hits and a run in the first inning, Berger was nearly perfect the rest of the way, allowing no more hits and only two baserunners. His complete-game two-hitter sends the Foresters another step forward in the tournament, where they have now won three games and lost one; on Wednesday, they’ll play the winner of a game played late Tuesday.
“Ian was outstanding today, obviously,” said manager Bill Pintard. “He got better as the game went on, increasing his velocity in the late innings. Just a terrific performance and one we really needed.”
“I felt comfortable out there, even though it was hot,” Berger said. “I was able to mix up my pitches, though my fastball was my best pitch today. I told the guys to get some runs and I’d do my best out there.”
Both sides of that agreement did their part. The Foresters gave Berger all the help he’d need with a four-run fourth inning that was keyed by a two-run double by rightfielder Kyle Russell. After singling in a run, centerfielder Steve Susdorf went from first to third on an infield grounder, setting up a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt by shortstop David Hernandez, with Susdorf scoring Santa Barbara’s fourth run of the inning.
In the fifth, the Foresters added two more. They scored one after second baseman Michael Torres’ hustle put him on third from where scored on a wild pitch. Leftfielder Rebel Ridling then drove in DH Devin Sheperd, who had singled.
In the seventh, Torres hustled to his second run when a throwing error by the A’s second baseman put Torres in position to score on another Sheperd single. Susdorf added an RBI single in the eighth, scoring Russell, who had tripled.
Meanwhile, Berger was mowing down the A’s with little trouble. At one point, he retired 15 batters in a row and 23 of the last 25. He struck out four and allowed only one walk and hit one batter. He also got perfect defense from the Foresters, who went errorless for the first time in the tournament.
The Foresters’ next game in the tournament will be broadcast live on AM 1340 and via the Internet at www.sbforesters.org.
Longtime sports writer and Independent contributor Jim Buckley works with the Foresters.