The Santa Barbara Foresters gave up five runs before recording the first out of the game, but they came roaring back to defeat the Senators of Vienna, Virginia, 11-6 on Sunday evening at the National Baseball Conference (NBC) World Series in Wichita, Kansas.
The victory moved the Foresters, 3-0 in the tournament and 36-16 overall, into the winners’ bracket semifinals. They will play the Generals of Ozark, Missouri, in a game scheduled to start today at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. (Radio broadcast on 1340 AM).
Mike Ford came out of the bullpen with the Foresters trailing 5-0 in the top of the first and proceeded to pitch eight strong innings for the win. “My mindset was: Stop them,” Ford said. The UCSB junior allowed just four hits and one run after Vienna took advantage of starter Mike Ojala’s control problems. The Senators cashed in three walks and a hit batter with a pair of doubles.
Santa Barbara came back with four runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by UCSB first baseman Eric Oliver and a two-run homer by Texas outfielder Kevin Keyes. It was the eighth homer of the year for Keyes, who also had a double and a triple in the game. Catcher Cameron Rupp, another Texan, hit a solo home run in the sixth to put the Foresters ahead, 7-6. Rupp added a two-run single in the eighth.
The Senators dropped into the losers’ bracket with a 40-11 record. They are attempting to become the first East Coast team to win the NBC tournament, which has been dominated by semipro clubs from the Midwest and Alaska. The Foresters are trying to become the first California team to win two championships, having pulled it off in 2006.
The Foresters are averaging more than 14 runs a game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, having earlier defeated the Wichita Wild Wings, 20-2, and the Plaza Tire Capahas of Missouri by a 12-5 score.
The 74th NBC World Series has been beset by wet weather, and games were being played far into the night to get it back on schedule. The championship game is set for Friday, August 15.