It’s been another fabulous run for the Santa Barbara Foresters at the 86th National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas.
And it’s one that could end with a record eighth title tonight.
Santa Barbara will play the Cheney, Kansas Diamond Dawgs at 4 p.m. (PDT). It’s a rematch of Saturday’s game, which the Foresters won, 5-1.
Santa Barbara is in excellent shape entering the championship game of the double-elimination tournament.
By outsourcing their first three opponents, 24-1, the Foresters are 3-0, and the only undefeated team left in the tournament. In order for the Foresters not to win their eighth crown in Wichita, they would have to lose two games to Cheney tonight. However, one win in the 4 p.m. game, or in a second game — if necessary — would give Santa Barbara the trophy.
It’s been a remarkable season for the Foresters in getting to where they’re at.
For starters, it didn’t even look like there’d be a season because of COVID-19. When the Foresters’ organization got the go-ahead from the city of Santa Barbara to play games at Pershing Park, Pintard masterfully put together a 30-game independent schedule.
“The work that the city parks and recreation department did for us was amazing,” Pintard said. “They really stepped up for us.”
The California Collegiate League, the league in which the Foresters compete, shut down for the summer, leaving Pintard with two choices: Don’t play or get some other teams and produce some sort of schedule. After choosing the latter, the next order of business was to assemble the team.
With prestigious leagues like the Cape Cod League down and out for the summer because of the coronavirus, Pintard ended up getting players who are the cream of the crop of collegiate baseball.
That group compiled a 27-3 regular-season record, and it did it without fans in attendance because of COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s very rewarding,” Pintard said. “It’s rewarding for all the hard work that a lot of people put in. There are a lot of people who are involved that made it possible for us to have a successful season.”
Just prior to the end of the regular season, the Foresters got an invitation from the National Baseball Congress World Series folks.
Pintard wasn’t sure, at first, if it would be feasible, financially and pretty much every other way, for the team to get back to Wichita and stay for at least a week in order to have a shot at the title. Somehow, some way, Pintard got the funding together to fly the team to the midwest and put it up in a hotel, where the players have been hanging their hats since Monday.
They can reward their 27th-year skipper with one win tonight.
“We have an exceptional team, and quite frankly the NBC (people) needed to see this team play, because it’s one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” Pintard said.
“It’s all been so rewarding the way they’ve played all year, and their dedication. They have always tried to be COVID-19 conscious, and I think they’ve done a great job with that. I think winning a championship would be a culmination of all of it.”