Patrick Mathis is still learning his teammates’ names.
A former prospect in high-A minor league baseball with the Houston Astros, Mathis was cut after an elbow surgery and signed with the Santa Barbara Foresters six days ago. Now he and the Foresters are in the championship game after they beat the San Antonio Angels 11-2 on Friday.
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium came to its feet with one swing in the bottom of the eighth as Mathis crushed a fastball over the right-field wall. There was no doubt as soon as the ball came off the bat. The three-run home run gave Santa Barbara a 9-2 lead.
“That’s the type of player I am,” he said. “I sit back, wait for my pitch, and take advantage of it.”
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The Foresters scored 10 runs in their final three innings at the plate after four scoreless innings from both teams. Santa Barbara third baseman Brandon Lewis said it took time to break down the previously-8-0 Angels.
“Boring — good, you can call it either way,” he said. “It was a close game. In a lot of clutch situations, we just didn’t come through. But we just kept with it.”
Foresters starting pitcher Michael Hobbes controlled the first five frames, but the Angels broke through when Hunter Breault took the mound. Breault loaded the bases and walked one in and allowed a sacrifice for another run for a 2-1 lead.
James Notary took over and shut the Angels down. He, Nico O’Donnell and Chase Wallace combined to close out the hottest team in the tournament out with four hitless innings.
Lewis said those throwers will be key to getting one more win.
“We just gotta keep believing in ourselves,” he said. “We’ve got a good pitching staff, and our lineup is just gonna see if we can get it done.”
The Foresters will play the winner of Wellington Heat and NJCAA National Team from Friday’s second semifinal. The championship game will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.