Foresters no-hit Liberal to reach semis

Mark Schnabel

WICHITA — The Santa Barbara Foresters were almost perfect in an 8-0 win over the Liberal BeeJays on Thursday in the championship semifinals of the National Baseball Congress World Series at Eck Stadium.

Three Forester pitchers combined on a no-hitter.

Sean Johnson went seven innings, striking out 10 of the 21 batters he faced. Peyton Pallette struck out the three batters he faced in the eighth inning. Elijah Trest pitched the ninth. He walked the first batter he faced, but got a couple of pop-fly outs and a strikeout.

“I did that one time in college,” Johnson said. “I took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Louisiana-Monroe. I never took a perfect game like that. I was getting tired. I haven’t thrown a whole 100 pitches this year. I just let the bullpen take care of it.”

“The fastball was working,” Pallett said. “The curveball wasn’t there, so I had to do it with the fastball. … I did what I could for us to get the W, so that was all right.”

“I definitely didn’t want to do that,” Trest said of the walk that spoiled the perfect game. “Usually that run scores. I was just trying to stay in the zone. I was just trying to do it for all these guys. That hasn’t happened in a while in this tournament. That’s a big deal for this team. I saw no hits and wanted to keep it that way.”

Johnson has spent the last two seasons in the independent pro Frontier League, which canceled its 2020 season. He played college baseball at Mississippi.

“I played for a team in Santa Barbara this summer of independent guys and college guys that was put together,” Johnson said. “I played there in July and got picked up by these guys.”

Pallett and Trest both play at Arkansas.

“My coach in the fall told me I would play in Santa Barbara, and I was excited about that,” Pallett said. “I got to play a couple of innings in the spring. It was tough to realize the season was over. I just had to go on from there.”

“Originally, I was going to the Cape (Cod League) this summer, but that got canceled,” Trest said. “I played in Santa Barbara last summer. I loved playing for (manager) Bill (Pintard). He’s a great coach. I wanted to get back out there and play for him.”

The Foresters scored in the second inning on a Ryan Holgate sacrifice fly. The run was aided by an error. Hunter Cullen hit a solo home run in the third inning. Branden Boissiere hit an RBI single in the sixth inning. Jace Jung hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the eighth.

The Foresters put things away with four runs in the top of the ninth.

Boissiere finished three for five hitting.

Garrett Bonnett was the sole baserunner for Liberal.

Cole Evans struck out six in the loss.

Santa Barbara plays the Cheney Diamond Dawgs on Saturday in the semifinals.