Foresters starting pitcher Kevin Cranz surrendered two runs in his five innings on the mound. | Credit: Victor Bryant

Kevin Bazzell racked up three hits, and the Santa Barbara Foresters exploded offensively in the late innings to defeat the Conejo Oaks 7-3 on Thursday night at Pershing Park.

With the victory, the Foresters improved to 11-7 on the season and took a one-game lead over the Oaks in the CCL South standings. 

“We had some growing pains earlier, but we’re in first place right now and that’s where we want to be,” said Foresters manager Bill Pintard. “I’m really happy. I thought it was a good win.”

Santa Barbara starting pitcher Robert Cranz got off to a rough start, surrendering one run apiece in the first and third innings before settling in to hold the Oaks scoreless in his remaining two innings on the mound.

“I was just leaning on my coach and leaning on my catcher,” Cranz said. “I started working in the off-speed pitches a little more, and it helped me in the end.”

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The Foresters got on the board in the first inning on an infield single by Griffin Everitt that scored Dylan Campbell from third.

Two batters later, a single to left field by Gavin Kash drove in Bazzell, increasing the Foresters’ lead to 2-1.

Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Miguel Santos doubled with one out. Bazzell followed with a two-out double that scored Santos to put the Foresters ahead 3-2.

The rally continued as Everitt was hit by a pitch and the next batter, Kash, broke the game open with a double that drove in Bazzell and Everitt, increasing the Foresters’ lead to 5-2.

Santa Barbara added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. One came on a sac fly by pinch-hitter Tanner O’Tremba, and the other scored when Dylan Campbell struck out, but the pitch eluded the catcher, allowing Santos to reach home from third. 

The Foresters will be back at Pershing Park on Friday to take on the Arroyo Seco Saints, beginning at 6 p.m.

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