The scoreboard boxes for the first four innings were filled with zeros Thursday at SLO Stadium, as the starting pitchers for the San Luis Obispo Blues and the Santa Barbara Foresters traded strikeouts.
But a two-run eighth inning by the first-place Foresters put the visiting team ahead for good and gave Santa Barbara (16-3, 27-6) a 3-2 win.
Working with a one-run lead, starting Blues pitcher Jacob Patterson (Texas Tech) struck out five opposing batters before getting himself into trouble in the sixth inning. The lefty walked two batters and gave up a single to load the bases before Blues manager Jamie Clark had seen enough. Reliever Jackson Sigmon (West Virginia) struck out the first two batters, but first baseman Dustin Williams (Oklahoma State) bobbled a slow rolling grounder that allowed a run to score.
The Blues (12-9, 24-11) did take the lead back in the bottom of the sixth, but Foresters pinch hitter Tony Cruz knocked in a run off reliever John Sparks after a couple pitches in the dirt moved runners over in the eighth inning to put them up for good.
Patterson gave up five hits and got the no-decision in five innings of work. Sparks took the loss.
Garrett King, starter for the Foresters, struck out seven in five⅔innings.
Errors: The Blues racked up four errors in the loss. On top of Williams’ boot at first, catcher Brett Barbier (Cal Poly) had an overthrow on a steal attempt in the 8th inning, Ryan Long had a ball go between his legs at third and right fielder Kramer Ferrell kicked a ball that turned a single into a triple.
Gardner the Great: Tanner Gardner (Texas Tech) continued his hot hitting this summer. Gardner was 2 for 4 with a single and a double that scored a run, pushing his season average to .384 to go along with 23 RBI, both team highs.
So-close Sluder: Sluder, who was the designated hitter in the eighth spot after being mired in an 0-for-9 slump, blasted a ball that looked like it was going over the left field fence. But it was snagged by Foresters left fielder Michael Smith at the warning track. Despite a weak pop-out to second base to end the game, the Oklahoma State product did break out of his mini slump, going 1 for 4 with an RBI.
Stolen King: Nick King (Georgia) stole his 15th base of the season before scoring one of the Blues’ runs on the night on a Gardner double. On Wednesday, King stole three bases and had two hits in the California Collegiate League All-Star game, a game that featured eight Blues players and ended with a dramatic 7-4 walk-off win for the CCL North team.
What’s Next: The Blues, who play the next six games at SLO Stadium, begin the long home stand with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Brewers. The first game of the series is Friday at 6 p.m.