Behind the strong pitching of UCLA star Nick Nastrini and an explosive offense, the Santa Barbara Foresters breezed to a 10-1 win over the visiting Texas Express on Wednesday night at Pershing Park .
Nastrini, the Bruins’ Friday night starter, allowed a leadoff home run to begin the game, then settled down to toss five solid innings.
The 6-foot-2 right-hander allowed just the one run on three hits with six strikeouts and no walks to earn the win.
“That leadoff home run was a dagger, but I came back from it,” Nastrini said. “I made some good pitches, got out of a couple of jams and executed a lot of good pitches.”
Santa Barbara manager Bill Pintard was impressed with his starter’s performance.
“He got five innings in with 62 pitches, that’s pretty good,” Pintard said. “He was good. He started off slow. He gave up a leadoff home run, hit a batter and got into a little bit of trouble, but he bounced back.
“It’s the sign of a good pitcher, being able to bounce back. Once we scored, he came out and had a shut-down inning in the second.”
At the plate, the Foresters had a number of big contributions.
Jace Jung finished 3-for-3 with two runs batted in and two runs scored. Matt McLain was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, and Ryan Holgate had a 3-for-5 night with a home run and two RBIs. Branden Boissiere was also 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in.
“The top of our lineup, McLain, Jung, Boissiere and Holgate have just been on fire for us,” Pintard said. “Jung has really been putting together quality at-bats. He’s at like 90% quality at-bats. McLain is right there with him.”
McLain and Jung hit one and two, respectively, in the Foresters lineup. They combined to reach base seven times on Wednesday night.
“Those two guys at the top of the lineup are really setting the pace,” Pintard said. “McLain had a triple and two singles, and the one time they got him out, he squared up the ball and hit a line drive.
“Jung had three singles and a walk, so that means you’ve got your top two guys getting on base seven out of eight at-bats. That’s really good.”
Nastrini, like the rest of his teammates, are over the moon about being able to even play baseball this summer with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most leagues around the country.
Even the California Collegiate League, the league in which the Foresters compete, is shut down. But Pintard was able to put together an independent schedule that has the team playing 32 games through mid August.
“I had no clue whether I was going to be able to play this summer,” Nastrini said. “Getting the word that there was going to be a team up here, I quickly called my coach (at UCLA) and said, ‘Get me on the team.’”
The Foresters and Texas Express continue their five-game series with a doubleheader today at Pershing Park beginning at 2 p.m. No spectators are allowed.