Martz’s walk-off single propels Foresters past rival Oaks in 10th inning
On a warm day with many fans moving throughout the game to find shade, Benjamin Martz was happy to get a post-game water bath.
“It was a little hot today, so it was nice.”
The SBCC product — who will transfer to UCSB in the fall — smacked a pinch-hit, walk-off single into left field in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Santa Barbara Foresters to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Conejo Oaks on Sunday afternoon at Pershing Park.
“I got two strikes, saw that elevated breaking ball and just decided to let it eat,” said Martz after helping the Foresters open California Coastal Collegiate League play with a win.
The late-game heroics erased a difficult afternoon for the Foresters (3-0 overall, 1-0 in league), who stranded 14 runners, including seven in scoring position in the first five innings against Oaks starter Travis Weston.
In the sixth, the Foresters would manufacture a run, as Eric Kennedy singled and swiped second base, eventually scoring on a two-out double down the left-field line by Tommy Holguin.
Holguin had three hits on the afternoon, his third consecutive multi-hit game to start the season.
“He’s also playing defense,” Forester manager Bill Pintard said of Holguin. “We just brought him to fill in, but he’s going to stay around for awhile. He’s a baseball player. He knows the game.”
The Foresters seemed primed to add to their total in the seventh, an inning that started with back-to-back singles by Ryan Cash and Jacob Katzfey, only to see Cash get doubled off second base on a line drive by Spencer Jones. Katzfey would eventually steal second, but was stranded after Zach Presno flied out to deep left.
That bad luck would seemingly stick around in the bottom of the eighth, as Kennedy got picked off first base despite a 3-0 count to Blake Hall with no outs.
But the hitters behind Kennedy picked him up, as Hall would eventually walk and jog home on a two-run home run by Ross Cadena, a ball that the catcher wasn’t convinced was going to leave the yard.
“I had two strikes, thought they were balls, but you can’t control that. Kept my composure, my stride and he left something up, got the barrel on the ball and I honestly didn’t think it was going out,” Cadena said. “It was a good thing to see. It was a good team win.”
Cadena was on the receiving end of stellar work by the bullpen, with five relievers combining to give up no runs on two hits over seven innings. Brock Helverson, Christian Winston, Brad Demco, Drake Greenwood and Conner Woods would combine for 12 of the team’s 15 strikeouts.
The Foresters have 31 strikeouts over their past two games.
“Our pitching for the first three games has been outrageous,” Pintard said. “We are putting up zeroes. For that bullpen to come out and shove zeroes up, and get all those swings and misses, that’s really something.”
Woods would work the 10th inning for his first win of the summer — and the second-year Forester is liking the vibe of the bullpen only three games into the season.
“We are coming together, just starting, new guys coming in and out, and we are clicking pretty well right now,” Woods said. “It’s important to start off strong so you don’t have to feel the pressure later in the season.”
Pintard knows it is early in the league season, but any advantage that can be gained against the rival Oaks is a good one.
“It’s big. It’s 1-0 now and we are playing them again. If we had lost and then we are at their place, an opposing team’s home field, they have an advantage,” Pintard said. “We would have been at a disadvantage.”
The Foresters travel to Thousand Oaks on Tuesday to face Conejo at 4:30 p.m. The action can be heard live on AM1290 or via newspress.com.