The look on Quentin Selma’s face said it all.
Losing isn’t something that championship teams can accept, even in summer baseball.
And the Santa Barbara Foresters have seven national championships under their belt, knowing what it takes to get to the top of the mountain — and this year’s version still has some work to do.
But, despite Selma’s frustration after striking out with the bases loaded to end the game, Foresters manager Bill Pintard was encouraged by what he saw in the ninth inning of a 3-0 loss to the OC Riptide at Pershing Park.
“We fought until the end,” Pintard explained. “When you do things like that, it puts a different look on what you have ahead of you, it’s easier to put behind you.”
After just three hits over the first eight innings — and only one after the second inning — the Foresters seemed to be destined to reward a big crowd on the Fourth of July, with Dru Baker singling up the middle with two outs, Zach Presno walking and Ross Cadena reaching when Presno beat a fielder’s choice attempt at second.
But, for the 14th time on Thursday afternoon, the Foresters struck out.
Pintard was concerned about the mentality of his team at the plate — with Baker and Eric Kennedy the only Foresters with hits on Thursday.
“We were more concerned about the umpire and what he was calling balls and strikes,” Pintard said. “We have to worry about what the pitcher is doing and adjust to that.”
The loss cuts into Santa Barbara’s lead in the California Collegiate League, as two consecutive losses to the Riptide leaves the Foresters only 1.5 games ahead.
A night after the bullpen cost them the game, it was back to its stellar self on Thursday, picking up nine strikeouts over five innings, surrendering only a single run.
The staff had 13 strikeouts overall, as starter Ryan Bergert took the loss despite allowing only two runs (one earned) and striking out four.
“Bergert was really solid today, made some big pitches,” Pintard said.
The Foresters skipper was also happy to see the bullpen back in shutdown mode, pointing to a nice rebound effort from Woods after a shaky outing last week. And while Brad Demco allowed his first hit of the summer (in 13 innings of work), the left-hander had four strikeouts over two innings.
“I think Conner was in command today,” Pintard said. “And Demco has been outstanding all summer.”
The Foresters don’t have much time to think about the loss, as the welcome the Academy Barons to town for a 6 p.m. game today. Follow all the action on AM1290 or via newspress.com.