The Foresters were clicking on all cylinders in their home opener.
Santa Barbara third baseman Kevin Bazzell went three for five with two runs batted in, and starting pitcher Parker Smith struck out 10 in his four innings on the mound as the Foresters cruised to a 10-2 victory over Conejo Oaks.
“The defense was great tonight. The pitching was great tonight. The hitting was good,” said Foresters assistant coach Steve Schuck, who stepped in for manager Bill Pintard. “We took what was given to us. We had a lot of walks, but we took them. We didn’t go chasing.”
A 5-4 loss on the road to MLB Academy Barons in the season opener came after the Foresters finished last season on a 21-game winning streak. A return to the friendly confines of Pershing Park appeared to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Smith ran into some trouble in the top of the third inning as he walked in a run to even the score at 2-2, but he escaped the inning with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of trouble.
“I was just trying to take it easy, take it slow, and focus on every pitch that I am throwing and make them count,” Smith said. “Things just worked out, and we got out of it.”
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The Foresters did the majority of their damage offensively with seven runs in the bottom of the third inning. Conejo Oaks starting pitcher Garrett Clarke struggled with control, hitting a batter and walking four consecutive Foresters in the inning.
Will Pendergrass broke the game open for Santa Barbara with a double that scored Kade Higgins and Ty Hodge, increasing the Foresters’ lead to 7-2.
Santa Barbara tacked on two more runs in the third inning on a single to left field by Bazzell that allowed Josh Stinson and Pendergrass to score to put the Foresters ahead 9-2.
Foresters relievers Andrew Dusabalon and Jacob Martinez were spectacular, as Santa Barbara pitchers struck out 18 and only surrendered four hits.
With the victory, Santa Barbara improved to 1-1 on the season. The Foresters host the OC Riptide on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Pershing Park. Fans can also listen in on AM 1290, KZSB.