The Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters long ago established themselves as the NBC World Series’ dominant team of the 2000s. After winning a fourth title on Saturday, they can set their sights on matching resumes with any team in the tournament’s 78 year history.
Santa Barbara defeated Seattle 6-2 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to repeat as NBC champions and win its fourth title since 2006. The total ties it with the Boulder (Colo.) Collegians and the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Sullivans, trailing Fairbanks (Ala.) with six and Liberal and Anchorage (Ala.) with five. The Foresters went 14-1 over the past two tournaments and are the first repeat winner since Kenai (Alaska) in 1993 and 1994.
“There’s a great tradition with the Foresters, and that tradition is winning,” second baseman Austin Davidson said. “We usually get a really good group of guys and the chemistry is great here. These guys want to stay (all summer) and they want to play.”
Seattle finishes second for the third time since 2008, when it lost to the Foresters.
A year go, the Foresters gave up four hits, with former Wichita State pitcher Mitch Mormann earning the win, in a 1-0 win over Kenai (Ala.). In 2008, they won 2-0. On Saturday, the Foresters again showed off their traditional pitching strength. No. 1 starter Nick Palewicz left the team, due to a death in the family, after throwing the opener. Coach Bill Pintard moved everybody up one spot and felt no pain. He liked his matchup on Saturday after scouting the Studs. His plan paid off when starter John Beck struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings.
“They can hit fastballs,” Pintard said. “He had a good fastball tonight, but he had a really good slider. They showed some patience, but he was getting a glove strike with it and some swinging strikes.”
Beck cruised through six innings before leaving with one out and two on in the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single in the second by striking out the side. After a leadoff double in the fourth, he again struck out the side. With runners on second and third in the sixth, he ended the threat with a groundball. In most cases, the slider bailed him out. The pitch moved away from right-handers and he used the every inch of the plate to get strikes. It tied up the left-handed hitters, and the Studs didn’t hit many balls hard.
“He was getting us to chase balls up, and other times he was keeping it down pretty well,” Seattle first baseman Eric Peterson said.
Beck, a junior at Texas-Arlington, said he didn’t use a slider until this summer, preferring a curveball.
“The last three games it’s been real good for me,” he said. “I had great defense behind and you can trust them, and especially trust your catcher to catch it.”
The Foresters scored three runs in the second and added a home run by No 9 hitter Zach Fish, who earned tournament MVP honors, in the fifth. In the seventh, the Foresters padded their lead with two two-out runs.
Studs starter David Benson pitched 16 scoreless innings entering the title game. That streak ended in the second inning after he battled control problems in the first. Robert Vickers doubled over the glove of the center fielder on Benson’s second pitch of the inning. Davidson drove him in. With two outs, Shane Hoelscher singled in Davidson. Then Arby Fields sliced a ball into left field, and it bounced into foul territory where Caleb Brown bobbled it. Hoelscher scored to give the Foresters a 3-0 lead and end Benson’s night.
Beck used his slider to great effect in the second, throwing it on the outside edge to right-hander batters. He got Kyle Boe to swing at a high fastball and then struck out the next two batters with his slider.
Seattle’s best chance to rally came in the seventh. Beck walked the leadoff batter and hit Garrett Breda with one out. The Studs cut the lead to 4-1 when Foresters first baseman Ryan O’Hearn’s throw to second base, on a groundball by Julien Pollard, got away and allowed Jett Hart to score from second. Reliever Willie Kuhl got Brown to line out to left. Albert Minnis, from Wichita State, got the final out, stranding two runners, on a groundball.
Studs reliever Nate O’Bryan kept his team in the game after taking over for Benson. The Foresters solved him in the seventh, putting the game out of reach with two-out runs. Richy Pedroza doubled in Arby Fields and scored on Richard Sanguinetti’s single.
Compare and contrast — The Foresters went 7-0 to win each of their three previous titles. This one came a little harder.
Santa Barbara needed to win six straight games to win their league. In Wichita, they hit .259 entering the title game and didn’t homer until Saturday. In contrast to some of Pintard’s powerhouses, this team needed to win with little margin for error.
“This team was a gritty team,” Pintard said. “We had to grind it out in this tournament. We had to grind it out in our league. We didn’t hit a lot.
The Foresters found the right NBC to win with pitching. Entering Saturday, the field combined for a 2.77 ERA in 62 games, by far the lowest since the reintroduction of wood bats in 2000. Teams hit .234, also the lowest since 2000.
“We came together as a team and we just kind of figured it out,” Beck said. “We’ve been kind of struggling hitting-wise, but this tournament we all stayed together as a team.”
|Brown lf||3||0||0||0||Fields cf||3||1||1||1|
|Tannehill 2b||4||0||0||0||Pedroza ss||3||1||1||1|
|Steiger dh||4||1||3||0||Sanguinetti lf||4||0||1||1|
|Peterson 1b||4||0||2||0||Vickers dh||3||1||2||0|
|Boe 3b||4||0||0||1||Davidson 2b||4||1||1||1|
|Hart cf||3||1||0||0||Felts c||3||0||0||0|
|Jennings ss||3||0||0||0||O’Hearn 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Breda c||3||0||0||0||Hoelscher 3b||4||1||1||1|
|Pollard rf||4||0||0||0||Fish rf||3||1||3||1|
E— Seattle 1, Santa Barbara 1. LOB— Seattle 7, Santa Barbara 5. DP— Seattle 1 . 2B— Steiger 2 (4), Peterson (2), Pedroza (1), Vickers (3), Fish (2). HR — Fish (1). CS — Pedroza (3), Fish (1). S — Jennings, Felts.
|Benson L, 2-1||1 2/3||5||3||3||1||2|
|Beck W,1-0||6 1/3||4||1||0||2||10|
HBP — by Beck (Breda). WP — Beck, Minnis. Umpires — home, Conan Strobel; first, Mark Goldfeder; second, Josh Sanderson. T — 2:14.