So. Cal. Reels in Streaking Santa Barbara

2015 Catch Game 12 Recap from So. Cal. FCA Baseball on Vimeo.

By: Myles Bridgewater-Jackman, Sports Information Director

La Mirada, Calif. -- The Catch were able to sneak away with a 3-2 victory against streaking Santa Barbara Friday night, in a game that featured 22 men left on base. So. Cal. served up the Foresters’ second loss of the season while simultaneously evening So. Cal.’s CCL league record at 2-2.

Fresh off of a brilliant five and two-third inning, no-hit performance, Luke Laurita (Cal State Dominguez Hills) came out looking strong against the Foresters, consistently working out of jams throughout his day. In the first inning Laurita stranded a runner at third by striking out cleanup hitter, Jeremy Montalbano. The second inning, the threat was runners at second and third with one out. The lefty K’d Dylan Paul before getting Michael Smith to ground out to end the second.

Unfortunately for the Catch, Santa Barbara starter Gary Cornish was just as excellent at working out of jams as Laurita. In the first inning, Richard Cunningham (Baylor University) reached on a dropped third strike before Josh Rojas (University of Hawaii), and Cole Taylor (University of Utah) each reached on a single and and error respectively. Taylor loaded the bases with one out, but neither Jeremy Barth (Biola University) nor RBI man KC Huth (West Virginia University) could capitalize on the bases-loaded situation, and stranded all three runners.

In similar fashion, the Catch found themselves in another bases-loaded, one-out situation in the second, but once again, So. Cal. was retired cleanly and the scoreless game continued to the third.

In the top of the third inning, Matt Henderson found his way aboard with a one-out single up the middle. The next batter, Tyler Neslony made his way to the plate and popped a fly ball to medium center field, for the second out of the inning. Due to the routine nature of the fly ball, KC Huth noticed that Henderson was making his way back to the first base bag nonchalantly and decided to take advantage of his dally. Huth cannoned a throw to first baseman, Jeremy Barth, on a line, and before Henderson could realize what had happened, Huth had doubled off the runner to end the inning.

After stranding six runners the first two innings, the Catch finally broke through with their first run of the game in the home half of the third. Barth’s single to center was supplemented by a double that was drilled to the gap in left-center off the bat of Huth, allowing the first baseman to score. However, the scoring stopped there as Huth was caught stealing and Cameron Miller grounded out to end the inning.

In the next half inning, the Foresters decided it was time to break their goose egg as well. Montalbano worked a leadoff walk before a pair of back-to-back, two-out doubles by John Holland and Dylan Paul allowed Santa Barbara to take a 2-1 lead.

The Catch were set down in order in the fourth but looked poised to tie up the game in the bottom of the fifth. The number two, three, and four hitters each reached base safely to lead off the inning, but frustratingly, So. Cal. stranded the bases loaded for the third time in the game without driving in a single run.

As it turned out, the Catch were able to more successfully score runs without the bases juiced. The following inning, Austin Yeoman (San Diego Christian) blooped a ball into right field. Forester right fielder, Michael Smith came diving in but the ball just nubbed off of the end of his glove and began to roll away from him, granting Yeoman the opportunity to alertly move on to second. Two batters later, Cooper Esmay (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) turned on the first pitch he saw and absolutely obliterated a ball to left. With a bat flip, a quick jog around the bases and a helmet clink at home, Esmay put the Catch back in the driver’s seat 3-2, with his third and fourth RBIs of the season.

So. Cal. hoped to add some insurance in the eighth after putting two runners on, but Esmay was unable to replicate his sixth inning success, fanning to end the inning.

Ultimately, The Catch had no need to worry about their one-run lead as closer, Jason Kim (Point Park University), got the call to shut down the the ninth. Kim retired the Foresters in order on eight pitches, sealing the victory and lowering his ERA to a team best 1.00.

Up Next: The Catch look to lock up the series victory as they continue their three game set against the Foresters, Saturday at 5 p.m.