Former Santa Ynez High standout Jackson Cloud was dominant in his first appearance of the summer. | Credit: Gary Kim

A wonderful performance on the mound and some clutch eighth-inning runs proved to be enough for the Santa Barbara Foresters baseball team to secure a 4-0 win Sunday in their home opener against the Ventura County Pirates.

With the victory, Santa Barbara improved to 2-0 in the young season.

“It’s really good [to get these wins], we really grinded them out,” Head Coach Bill Pintard said. “[On Saturday] We were in an adverse situation in tough circumstances and grinded that one out and today we did the same. … It’s really big for us to win this game early, and it sets a tone for the rest of the league that we’re going to be a force again.”

It was also the Foresters’ first game at Eddie Mathews Field located at Santa Barbara High School but that didn’t impact the crowd, as it was a packed stadium.

“We loved Pershing but with the rains they had last year and the extension of SBCC’s season, there wasn’t enough time for us to get that back but thank you to SBUSD and Santa Barbara High, we are really grateful,” Pintard said.

The Foresters have combined to allow zero runs through their first 18 innings of play so far this season.

A big part of that on Sunday was due to the performance of right-handed pitcher Jackson Cloud.

A local kid who grew up in Santa Ynez, Cloud turned in an amazing performance against Ventura County, tossing six innings and allowing just three hits while striking out nine batters.

“It helps when you have a really good defense,” Cloud said after the game when asked about his performance. “I just felt really good today, though. My cutter was really working, but everything was pretty good.”

It was a mostly clean start for Cloud, but in the fifth inning he ran into a bit of trouble.

With the Foresters leading 1-0 courtesy of an RBI double in the second inning from Jesse Di Maggio, Cloud was in line for the win.

Jesse Di Maggio has thrived in his first two games with the Foresters. | Photo Credit: Gary Kim

But a one-out single in the top of the fifth followed by a throwing error from Cloud on a check throw to first allowed the Pirates’ Jose Mariano to advance to third.

Despite the mistake, Cloud shook it off, striking out the next two batters, looking to retire the side and turn the game over to his relief staff with a 1-0 lead intact.

In between the second and third out, Pintard went out to the mound to talk to Cloud, ultimately allowing him to finish the frame.

“I was really frustrated with that mistake, but coach went out there just to instill trust in me,” Cloud said. “He’s a great coach. He told me to go, take a deep breath, and then go out there and attack. And that’s what I did.”

Both Cloud’s father and uncle played under Pintard and the Santa Barbara Foresters, so the coach said he “knew what kind of competitor I had.”

“We’re a little thin on pitching right now with guys still coming, and we just figured that he would be probably our best option to go and extend the game out,” Pintard said.

“Even when he did fall behind, he was able to refocus and get back in counts and he made pitches when he had to. I think he’s going to be even better next time.”

Santa Barbara really put the game away in the eighth inning with Addison Klepsch hitting an RBI double and Will Rogers adding an RBI single as well.

Later in the frame, Dominic Smaldino was hit by a pitch to score the fourth and final run of the contest.

The Foresters bullpen was also great as Ty Zahradnik pitched a hitless seventh and eighth inning while Garrett Stratton sat down the Pirates in the ninth to secure the win.

“We have pitched really well, two bagels in a row, so we are definitely doing good there,” Pintard said.

The Forester’s next game is on June 11 at Santa Barbara High against the SLO Blues with first pitch at 4:30 p.m.

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