With a cloud of smoke from the sherpa fire up north hanging over the proceedings, the odd darkness on the field mirrored Ventura’s current predicament.
The Halos fell behind thanks to a four-run bottom of the first by the Santa Barbara Foresters in a 6-2 loss Thursday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, and have now lost three games in a row for the first time this season.
Brendan Griffith (Clark College) went 3-3 with two RBIs on a double and two singles, plus a walk to lead the way for the Ventura (6-5, 4-5) offense. However the Halos twice let bases loaded with one out situations slip through their fingers without pushing a run across in the middle innings, while also grounding into a pair of inning ending double plays.
It was a promising start, as Matt Waldren (Tennessee) reached on an error by the second basemen with two outs in the top of the first inning. Cody Phillips (Princeton) singled him over to third, then Griffith brought him home with a double to give Ventura a 1-0 lead.
The edge was short lived, as Santa Barbara (7-4, 5-4) quickly got to Halos starter Chris Danielson, who had his first shot to begin a game this season in a spot start. The first four Forester batters reached on hits, with leadoff man Colton Waltner advancing to second on a throwing error. Travis Moniot had an RBI single, then Trevor Abrams smacked a two RBI double, and Hunter Williams added a sacrifice fly.
In total the Foresters put up four runs on five hits and a walk in the bottom of the first, taking a 4-1 lead they’d never relinquish. Danielson settled down over the next two innings, and finished with three and a third pitched with the four runs allowed on six hits and two walks in suffering his first loss of the season to fall to 1-1.
Ventura responded in the top of the third, with Devan Peterson (Harvard) hitting a one out single and Phillips walking. Griffith again came through with an RBI-producing hit, this time a single that cut the deficit to 4-2, but it would be as close as the Halos would come on the scoreboard for the rest of the game against Santa Barbara Starter Miles Sandum.
Opportunities were there for Ventura, but each time in the top of the fourth and six innings the door slammed shut with the bases loaded and one out. In the fourth Mike Volaski (Rider) lead off reaching on an error, Adisson Pelupessy hit a one out single, and Ben Skinner (Harvard) was hit by a pitch, but the next two batters flew out and hit in to a fielders choice. In the sixth Volaski and Blake Chiaramonte singled to lead off the inning and Skinner walked with one out, but a strikeout and pop out mooted the threat.
Sandum went five and two thirds for the Foresters, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks to earn his first win of the season. Austin Blessing came on for him with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth, and induced an inning ending pop out, then got a double play ball get out of the seventh after allowing a one out single to Griffith.
Stephen Larson (Westmont) replaced Danielson with one out in the bottom of the fourth, and retired the first six Santa Barbara batters he faced. However in the bottom of sixth a one out single by Evan Cassolato, then a walk to Kreston Woods allowed Hank LoForte to single home a run. Larson finished with two and two thirds tossed, allowing one run on two hits and two walks.
Taylor Campos threw the seventh, allowing a solo home run to Williams and a walk, then Pelupessy pitched a one-two-three eighth. The Forester bullpen allowed just two hits and one walk, as Zack Esquivel threw a perfect top of the eighth, and Sean Chandler had a pair of strikeouts with a hit and walk allowed in the ninth.
The Halos face the San Luis Obispo Blues in the next three games on the slate. Friday it’s a trip to Sinsheimer Park and the central coast for a 6PM start, then Sunday Ventura hosts a doubleheader at Ventura College beginning at 1PM. You can listen to all three games on the Halos Baseball Network.