Matthew McLain continued to bring something extra to the Santa Barbara Foresters’ lineup in his first week with the summer collegiate baseball club.
The All-America shortstop from UCLA had two extra-base hits for the second-straight night and went 3-for-4 with his first home run to lead the Foresters to a 16-1 victory over the Santa Barbara Grizzlies at Pershing Park on Thursday.
“McLain had five quality at-bats,” gushed manager Bill Pintard, noting a performance which included two walks, a single and a double to go with his homer. McLain also reached safely on an error and wound up scoring five runs.
Spencer Jones, a freshman from Vanderbilt, went 3-for-5 and drove in six runs with a pair of two-run doubles and a two-run triple.
Christian Franklin from Arkansas added his first homer of the season, belting a two-run shot in the fourth.
“Spencer Jones had a big day,” Pintard said. “Offensively, we were just relentless. We took advantage of their walks and were very patient. We weren’t swinging at stuff and getting into bad habits.
“(Noah) Cardenas had five walks.”
He was also happy to see his two recent Santa Barbara High graduates get their first hits as Foresters. Bryce Warrecker, who struck out five batters in two innings in relief during Wednesday’s opener against the Inland Empire Pirates, went 2-for-3 off the bench on Thursday with an RBI. Nick Oakley also got a hit and scored a run.
But it all started with McLain, who hit the first pitch from Arizona junior Ian Churchill for a home run to give the Foresters an instant lead. He just missed another homer with a double off the left-field fence to lead off a four-run fourth, although Franklin immediately cashed him in with his homer.
McLain, who also walked, is now 5-for-8 as a Forester with four extra-base hits.
The Grizzlies, a team comprised of several former SBCC stars including Churchill, got their lone run in the fourth inning stringing together a single by Kyle Gonzalez and three walks. A base on balls to Brandon Lawrence scored Phil Quartararo with the team’s lone run.
Gonzalez, a Vaquero catcher bound for Concordia College of Irvine, got two of the Grizzlies’ five hits.
Churchill settled down after McLain’s game-opening homer, getting two strike outs and a ground out in his only inning of work. But walks haunted the rest of the Grizzlies’ pitching staff.
The Foresters received a strong start from Cal State Fullerton ace Kyle Luckham, who struck out five while allowing three hits and no walks in three scoreless innings.
“It was a great performance,” Pintard said. “We were flawless in the field and our pitching was really good tonight.
“Luckham was really, really strong — much better than his intrasquad game.
“We got to see (Fresno State’s Jake) Harrell … (Arkansas’ Peyton) Pallette and (Blake) Adams were great. We had no hiccups on the mound at all.”
The Foresters will return to Pershing Park tonight for a 6 p.m. game against the Santa Paula Halos before playing their annual Fourth of the July Game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. against the Bakersfield Blaze.
“It’s still early … we’re going to get even better,” Pintard said ominously.