Foresters reach finals, Cheney stops Hays at NBC World Series

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Santa Barbara Forester pitcher Justin Eckhardt tossed a complete-game win over Lonestar Baseball, striking out five. Eckhardt is a sophomore at the University of Texas.

WICHITA — Santa Barbara Forester pitcher Justin Eckhardt put his team in the finals of the 87th National Baseball Congress World Series with an 8-0 win over the Lonestar Baseball Club of Austin Thursday in championship semifinal play at Riverfront Stadium.

The game was called in the seventh inning on the eight-run rule.

The University of Texas sophomore and Sealy, Texas, native, allowed three hits with no walks and five strikeouts for his second win of the tournament.

Santa Barbara Forester Seth Stephenson makes contact with a pitch during play against Lonestar Baseball in the semfinals of the 87th National Baseball Congress World Series. The Foresters will seek their 10th NBC title after an 8-0 win.

“It was good,” Eckhardt said. “I had to make some in-game adjustments. Early on, I couldn’t find the strike zone. I made some adjustments and things turned around for me. Every time we get a lead, the confidence level just goes up tremendously. You love getting those runs up ahead of you. The slider was working really well today. They were getting on the first-pitch fast balls early on. I had to go to the slider first pitch and that was working pretty well.”

Eckhardt pitched in six games with the Longhorns last season. The team fell in the College World Series semifinals.

“It’s been a bit of a culture shock,” Eckhardt said of moving from Texas in the spring to California in the summer. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity to play here. I had a blast.”

The Foresters get a day off, playing in the finals at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“That’s huge for us,” Eckhardt said. “Our bullpen gets some rest. I only had to pitch seven (innings). Our bullpen is not too stretched.”

Lonestar Baseball outfielder Andre Jackson snags a fly ball on the warning track during championship semifinal play against the Santa Barbara Foresters. Lonestar fell 8-0.
Lonestar Baseball third baseman Alex Cornman makes a throw to first during semifinal play against the Santa Barbara Foresters at the NBC World Series.

Dylan Campbell went three for five hitting for Santa Barbara, driving in a run. Ryan Wrobleski and Kendall Pettis each went two for three with an RBI.

Seth Devries took the loss for Lonestar. Max Puls had two of Lonestar’s three hits.

In the consolation semifinals, the Cheney Diamond Dawgs reached the final three for the second straight year, stopping the Hays Larks 11-1 in seven innings on the eight-run rule.

Cheney pitcher Spencer Hynes, a junior from Wichita State, went six innings, allowing a run on two hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Cheney Diamond Dawg pitcher Spencer Hynes claimed a win against the Hays Larks at the NBC World Series. Hynes struck out eight batters in six innings.
Cheney Diamond Dawg Ryan Koval rounds third base after hitting a home run against the Hays Larks during play in the National Baseball Congress World Series. Cheney won 11-1.

Ryan Koval hit a two-run home run for Cheney to cap a four-run third inning. George Specht added a three-run home run in the fifth inning.

Leo Jiminian hit an RBI double for Hays in the bottom of the fifth.

Koval hit an RBI double in the seventh inning, followed by an RBI single for Specht. An error allowed two more Dawg runs to score.

Cheney’s Jaxson Syring was twice hit by a pitch. He tied the modern wood bat-era record for being hit by pitches in a tournament at seven.

Dakota Rodd went to the mound for Cheney in the seventh inning, getting two outs on the first two pitches. Rodd hit a batter and gave up a hit.

Hays Lark Brady Evans takes a pitch during play against the Cheney Diamond Dawgs in the consolation quarterfinals of the NBC World Series. Hays fell 11-1.
Hays Lark outfielder Zach Henry makes an inning-ending catch against the Cheney Diamond Dawgs. Hays finishes fourth in the NBC World Series.

Tyler Palmer took the loss for the Larks. Hays finishes fourth in the 16-team field.

Cheney will face Lonestar at 7 p.m. Friday. That winner faces Santa Barbara at 6 p.m. Saturday, needing to beat the Foresters twice.

87th National Baseball Congress World Series

at Riverfront Stadium,

Wichita

Thursday’s games

Championship semifinals

Santa Barbara Foresters 8, Lonestar Baseball 0

(7 innings, run rule)

Lonestar;000;000;0;—;0;3;6

Santa Bar.;104;011;1;—;8;12;1

Devries (L, 1-1), Shields 5, Lee 6 and Taylor; Eckhart (W, 2-0) and Thomas. Time — 1:50.

Consolation quarterfinals

Cheney Diamond Dawgs 11, Hays Larks 1

(7 innings, run rule)

Cheney;004;030;4;—;11;6;0

Hays;000;010;0;—;1;3;3

Hines (W, 1-0), Rodd 7 and Farmer; Palmer (L, 0-1), Dreiling 3, Blue 5, Castellucci 7 and Evans. HR — C: Koval (1), Specht (1). Time — 2:14.

Friday’s game

Consolation semifinals

Cheney Diamond Dawgs vs. Lonestar Baseball 7 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Championship finals

Game 1 6 p.m.

Game 2 8:30 p.m. (if necessary)

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com