Foresters advance to NBC World Series championship game
WICHITA, Kan. — The Santa Barbara Foresters have certainly earned a chance to add another trophy to the case.
Santa Barbara (29-4) defeated top-seeded Cheney, Kan. Diamond Dawgs 5-1 on Saturday at Eck Stadium, advancing to the National Baseball Congress World Series championship game on Monday night.
With the win, the Foresters will now look to clinch their eighth NBC World Series title.
As has been the case since arriving in Wichita last week, Santa Barbara was powered by pitching on Saturday. Coming off a combined no-hitter on Thursday, the Foresters’ arms were again impressive on the mound.
Kyle Luckham picked up the win, tossing 5 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. He allowed just two hits and struck out four while not issuing a walk. Caden Monke and Sean Mullen did not allow a run in relief, while Peyton Palette allowed the only run of the contest in the ninth. The two-out, run scoring double by the Dawgs marked the only run the Foresters’ staff has allowed in three World Series contests.
Santa Barbara’s offense was powered by Casey Dykstra, who joined the team as a pitcher but has since been roaming the outfield for the Foresters. Dykstra tallied three hits and drove in three, while Ryan Holgate added a pair of hits. Santa Barbara registered just six hits in the game, including only one hit from the top half of its lineup.
“It’s a different guy who steps up and gets it done,” said Santa Barbara coach Bill Pintard following the win. “That’s the sign of a great team.”
Pintard described his team’s approach in Wichita as “very business-like,” praising his assistant coaches and players for rising to the occasion.
Jace Jung opened the scoring for the Foresters in the bottom of the first. He drilled a double to right field, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when the throw went into left field.
Sean McLain led off the second inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a RBI single from Dykstra to make it 2-0.
Pintard said it was important for his team to get out to an early lead.
“We didn’t want them to get any kind of momentum,” Pintard said. “They had fans, they’re from out here… we couldn’t let them get any momentum.”
Santa Barbara added a pair in the fourth, as Noah Cardenas scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0, before Dykstra struck again — this time with a RBI triple — to make it 4-0.
Dykstra’s RBI single in the sixth made it 5-0 before Jackson Glenn’s run-scoring double in the final inning got the Dawgs on the board.
Perhaps the most important part about Saturday’s victory is that now Santa Barbara has to be defeated twice in order to be eliminated from the World Series.
“If we had lost, we would have had to play three more games and go undefeated,” Pintard said. “I think we had the pitching to do it, but that’s what would have had to happen.”
The Foresters will take on the winner of the Hutchinson, Kan. Monarchs and Houston, Tex. Express contest on Monday night. The team has one goal in mind, the skipper said.
“I know we’re going to play hard, and we’re going to play to win,” he said. “We didn’t come all the way out here to sightsee, we came out here to win a championship.”
Monday’s game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. PST. A second game would take place would take place if Santa Barbara were to lose Game One. The game will be streamed live on the NBC World Series’ YouTube channel.