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Six Foresters Combine on No-Hitter for 8th Straight Win

Starter Caleb Sloan strikes out 8 in four innings to lead staff

Caleb Sloan , SB Foresters Click to view larger
Caleb Sloan was a force on the mound for the Foresters, striking out eight in five innings of work. Sloan and five relievers combined on a no-hitter against the San Luis Obispo Blues. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Caleb Sloan couldn’t wait to get back on the mound after a sub-par pitching debut for the Santa Barbara Foresters last Sunday.

The 6-3 sophomore from Texas Christian University made the most of his first start Saturday night, striking out eight in four innings of a 5-0 victory over the San Luis Obispo Blues. Five relievers followed with one inning apiece and the six pitchers combined on the third no-hitter in team history.

The six-time NBC World Champion Foresters won their eighth straight to start the summer baseball season. They lead the eight-team California Collegiate League with a 5-0 mark. The Orange County Riptide are second at 6-3. After a 6-2 start, the Blues dropped their fifth in a row, falling to 6-7 and 1-5 in the CCL.

The Forester pitchers struck out a season-high 14 batters. Left-hander Garrett Crochet fanned two in the fifth frame and he was followed by Conner Woods (6th inning), 6-foot-7 Jackson Wolf (7th), his TCU teammate James Notary (8th) and Chase Wallace (9th).

“I had a rough outing last week and I was just happy to get back on the mound,” said Sloan, a right-hander who struck out seven of the first 10 batters. “I had a lot of focus. Coach Tim (Haubursin, the pitching coach) and I spent a lot of time working on getting my rhythm back.

“The pitching staff was incredible tonight. When I got pulled, I wasn’t concerned at all. I knew our guys would get after it, one by one, and do their job.”

Utah Jones, SB Foresters Click to view larger
Utah Jones (2) is greeted at home by Ryan Cash (5) and Andrew Wiss (8) after hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Cole Tucker was sharp in the first four innings for the Blues, holding the Foresters to three hits and fanning four. Ryan Cash walked to lead off the fifth and following a long flyout to center, Utah Jones ripped his first homer of the year – a two-run shot that curled inside the right-field pole and onto Castillo Street for a 2-0 lead.

“After my first at-bat, I knew he was going to start me with a fastball and I was ready for it,” said Jones, a senior shortstop from North Greenville, a NCAA Div. 2 school in Tigerville, South Carolina. “It was kind of up-and-in and I just stayed back, used my hands and let the rest take over. I knew it had the distance but I was a little worried if it was going to stay fair.”

Jones was also big on defense. He made three putouts and was involved in Forester double plays in the fourth and ninth innings

“No one even realized it was a no-hitter,” said Jones. “We were coming through the line (after the game) and someone said it was a combined no-no. When you have pitching like that, all you need to do is put up one or two runs. That’s an amazing weapon to have.”

Santa Barbara collected nine hits off four Blues’ pitchers, including a homer, a triple by Andrew Wiss and doubles by Cash, Michael Neustifter and Chase Illig. John Jensen failed to get a hit for the first time this summer and his seven-game hit streak came to a halt. He also hit safely in SBCC’s last 17 games, which means the future UC Irvine Anteater entered Saturday’s game with a 24-game hitting streak.

The Foresters got three more runs in the fifth, loading the bases on a Jensen walk, a hit-by-pitch by Illig and a walk to Tyler Hardman. Cash hit a two-run single through the hole at shortstop and Nuestifter stroked a double inside the third-base bag to score Hardman and make it 5-0.

“Every pitcher did a heckuva job tonight,” said Foresters manager Bill Pintard. “Sloan got a little tired and started yanking the ball a little bit, so we replaced him in the fifth. We’ve never had multiple guys pitch a no-hitter. The last one was in the late 1990s by Matt Sorensen.

“Utah Jones is an unlikely guy to hit a home run but he got all of it. I’m sure he hardly even felt it.”

Forester pitchers have struck out 12, 12 and 14 in the last three games. They’ve outscored their opponents 72-23 this year and notched their third shutout in eight games.

“We’ve always been about pitching and defense,” said Pintard. “We’re following right along this year. The staff is really coming together nicely. They’re all working hard and they’re just holding the rope, passing it from one guy to one guy to the next."

Brett Standlee, a 6-4 right-hander from Oklahoma State, will start for the Foresters on Sunday when they hope to improve to 6-0 at home in a Father’s Day battle with the Blues at 2 p.m. 

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