This is why they play the games.
On paper, the Santa Barbara Foresters were the class of the National Baseball Congress World Series, sporting a 3-0 record with a team batting average near .300 and an ERA a 0.67.
On Thursday night, none of that mattered, as Seattle Studs’ hurler Cody Culp fired a complete-game, six-hitter in shutting out the Foresters, 5-0, to advance to the NBC semifinals.
It was only the second time this season Santa Barbara had been shut out, this one ending a 36-11 campaign that looked destined for a repeat national championship.
Foresters starter Clayton Beeter struggled with his command for the first time this summer — he had a 0.00 ERA through 12-plus summer innings — and walked five in surrendering three runs in just two innings pitched.
Brad Demco would also lose his perfect ERA, giving up a run in the eighth inning as the Studs put the game out of reach.
The Studs did their damage with only four hits, taking advantage of seven Forester walks.
In four NBC games, the Foresters struck out 49 batters, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing end to the summer.
Santa Barbara had opportunities early to make a statement offensively, putting runners in scoring position in the second and sixth innings.
In the second, Jacob Katzfey and Ross Cadena opened the inning with back-to-back singles, only to see Quentin Selma ground into a double-play to move Katzfey to third with two outs. Tevin Tucker grounded out to end the threat.
In the fifth, the Foresters had runners at second and third with one out, but Zach Presno failed to make contact when the Studs were conceding the run. Katzfey, the Foresters’ hottest hitter entering the game, followed with a fly ball to left.
The Studs advance to face the San Diego Stars in the NBC semifinals on Friday.