Wow in Wichita: Foresters romp to eighth NBC World Series crown
WICHITA, Kan. — The Santa Barbara Foresters had more than enough for their record eighth National Baseball Congress World Series championship in just 14 years.
The local summer collegiate baseball team completed its romp through Wichita by defeating the Cheney, Kan. Diamond Dawgs 12-3 in Monday’s final of the 86th annual event.
The Foresters (30-4) won their four tournament games by a combined score of 33-4. They played errorless defense throughout the event.
“I’ve been coaching the Foresters for a long time (26 years), and this team was as good in all facets of the game as any I’ve ever had,” manager Bill Pintard said. “We had defense, pitching, hitting, hitting with power, and we were relentless on the bases.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been this balanced.”
Matthew McLain, who received the NBC’s Top MLB Prospect Award before the game, set the tone just minutes later by ripping the first pitch up the middle for a single.
Just three pitches later, Jace Jung belted an opposite-field home run over the left-field fence. McLain and Hunter Cullen also homered in the game, giving Santa Barbara 42 for the season in just 34 outings.
Jung’s homer was his 10th of the summer, tying Christian Encarnacion for the team lead.
Starting pitcher Nick Nastrini (6-0) pitched out of jams in the first two innings, stranding a pair of runners in each frame. He allowed three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in four innings of work after having pitched a one-hitter over six innings in Tuesday’s tournament opener.
“He didn’t have his greatest command tonight, coming back on short rest, but he made pitches when he had to,” Pintard said.
Four relievers — Nick Proctor, Bryce Warrecker, Sean Mullen, and Blake Adams— kept the shutout intact over the next four innings by allowing just two hits with four strikeouts.
Warrecker, a recent Santa Barbara High graduate bound for Cal Poly, struck out two during a 1-2-3 sixth inning. His earned run average of 0.36 in 25 innings ranks as the third-lowest in team history. He finished the summer with 39 strikeouts — second only to Nastrini’s 45 — and just two walks.
“We had a high school kid — and a third-generation Forester, at that — pitch a real clean inning,” Pintard said. Both Warrecker’s grandfather (Fred) and father (Wes) pitched for the Foresters.
The sixth Santa Barbara pitcher was the charm for Cheney: Caleb Farmer hit a three-run homer with one out the ninth to spoil the Foresters’ bid for their third shutout of the tournament.
Sean Johnson, who pitched the first six innings of the Foresters’ no-hit victory over Liberal, Kan. on Thursday, was named as the tournament’s most valuable player.
McLain went 2-for-5 with three runs scored. The shortstop from UCLA finished the season with a team-leading .436 batting average — third-best in club history. Bill Scott hit .439 in 1998 and Bill Keppinger nearly matched that the following year at .438.
McLain’s brother Sean, a third baseman from Arizona State University, actually led Santa Barbara in Monday’s game by going 3-for-5 with a double. He matched his sibling with three runs scored and stole two bases. The Foresters had five steals in the game to finish the year with 135.
Jung went 2-for-5 with a team-best three RBIs to finish the summer at .404. Encarnacion was 2-for-6 with two RBIs. He finished with 47 RBIs to tie for ninth-best in Foresters’ history despite having played just 29 games during the coronavirus-shortened season.
Cullen led off the Foresters’ fourth inning with his second home run of the tournament, pulling a pitch over the right-field fence. Sean McLain followed with a double and scored two outs later on a single to right by Encarnacion.
The Foresters struck for three more runs in the fifth. Sean McLain scored Pat Caulfield with a two-out single to right. He followed him home on his brother’s homer to left.
“When we got to 5-0, we were feeling good,” Pintard said. “But when Matt McLain hit that monster homer and we got it to eight, we knew it was over.”
Santa Barbara added two runs in the sixth on Caulfield’s RBI single and a fielding error. They continued to pour it on in the seventh when the McLain brothers each stole a base to set up run-scoring outs by Jung and Encarnacion, extending their margin to 12-0.
Pintard said the Foresters remained aggressive to silence the heckling that had been coming from Cheney’s dugout.
“They were on our left fielder (Casey Dykstra) and they were on our third baseman, Sean McLain, really bad,” he said. “I told them, ‘Hey, just keep going and we’ll just keep putting them up … Don’t go to their level.’
“They woke up a monster.”
Sean McLain got the final word, catching a pop-up induced by relief pitcher Elijah Trest to touch off Santa Barbara’s dog-piling, victory celebration.