WICHITA — The Santa Barbara Foresters are in the National Baseball Congress World Series finals for the ninth time after stopping the San Antonio Angels 11-2 Friday night in the semifinals at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Down 2-1 after 5 1/2 innings, the Foresters rallied for 10 runs total in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. All of the Foresters runs came with two outs. It was the second straight night Santa Barbara needed to come from behind to win.
“We’ve been coming back all year long,” Santa Barbara manager Bill Pintard said. “We’ve scored most of our runs in the sixth and seventh innings. This team, when they get down, they just stay the course and stay locked in. If you play us, you’d better get 27 outs. We don’t like getting down. We don’t get down on purpose. It’s just part of the make-up of this team that we overcome deficits.”
The Foresters were led on offense by Patrick Mathis, who went two for five with a home run and three RBIs.
Mathis joined the team just six days ago after getting released from the Houston Astros system, playing Class A Advanced ball. Mathis said he was released about a month ago after a shoulder injury.
“I just got picked up for this tournament,” Mathis said. “I’m just starting to learn names. I just got released a month ago. I’ve been staying ready in case somebody calls. Bill called me. I played in the Cape (Cod League), so this is my first time here.”
Santa Barbara put runners at second and third base with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. After a pop fly for an out, Luke Ritter grounded out to second to score a run.
The Angeles loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. Garrett Wilkinson drew a walk to drive in a run. Dillon Stumpf put down a suicide squeeze bunt to drive in a run. The Foresters misplayed the ball, keeping the bases loaded. A force out at home and a double play ended the rally.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Elijah Ray Alexander singled to drive in a run and tie the game. Logan Allen followed with an RBI single. Brandon Lewis then hit a two-run double.
Utah Jones hit a sacrifice fly for the Foresters in the bottom of the seventh. Mathis hit a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Utah Jones added a two-run double.
“That was a fastball,” Mathis said. “That was staying to our approach, staying patient at the plate. Not trying to press too much and wait for our pitch. That’s what the coach preaches to us.”
“Two-out hits win championships,” Pintard said. “That team, they are a scrappy group. I have to tip my hat to them. Their pitcher was scrappy. All he had was his fast ball. He had a great game.”
Michael Hobbs went five innings for Santa Barbara, allowing four hits with four strikeouts. James Notary went two innings for the win, allowing a walk with three strikeouts. Nico O’Donnell and Chase Wallace each threw a scoreless inning for the Forester.
Mathis went two for five hitting for the Foresters. Alexander went two for four with three stolen bases.
Richard Gilbert went 5 2-3 innings in the loss, striking out three. Justin Lewis and Ryan Ramsey finished the game.
Nicholas Hamel went two for four for the Angels, which finish the tournament 8-1. It was the best finish for the Angels in the tourney.
Santa Barbara will face the winner of the NJCAA National Team-Wellington heat game, which was in progress at deadline.
The Foresters are going for their seventh title, which would break their tie with the Fairbanks Goldpanners for the most NBC titles overall.