A swarm of bees took over the Halos dugout during batting practice, but it was the visitors that stung them late.
The Ventura bullpen surrendered eight runs on seven hits as the Halos fell to the Santa Barbara Foresters for the second straight game, 8-3 Wednesday evening at Ventura College.
Starter Charlie Brooks (Nevada) pitched five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks, while Matt Waldren (Tennessee) went 2-3 with a double, an RBI, and a walk, and Cody Phillips (Princeton) went 2-3 with a walk. Ventura (6-4, 4-4) held a 2-0 lead through the first five innings, but couldn’t add to the lead on a pair of runner in scoring position situations in the second and fourth innings.
Santa Barbara (6-4, 4-4) turned the game around in the top of the sixth inning against reliever Danny Thomas (CSU-Monterey Bay), taking advantage of a leadoff walk and single as Dylan Paul followed up with a two-RBI triple. Connor McManigal brought Paul home with a sacrifice fly, then after singling with two outs, Steven Coe scored on an RBI double by Wesley Ghan-Gibson. Thomas would take the loss, falling to 1-1 on the season.
Paul paced the Forester offense, picking up three RBIs, while McManigal went 2-4 with a trio of RBI and a stolen base. Santa Barbara made life difficult on the base paths, stealing six bases and converting three of the swiped bags into runs.
Ventura opened an early lead as Joe Moran (Oklahoma Baptist) and Blake Chiaramonte walked to lead off the bottom of the first, then Waldren singled in Moran on the 10th pitch of his at bat. Austin Russ (USC) followed by bouncing in to a double play, bringing in Chiaramonte from third but ending the early offensive threat.
Waldren lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double, and moved to third on a deep fly out by Austin Russ. Chaneng Varela (Lamar) brought the run home with an RBI groundout to short to cut the deficit to 4-3 in the final inning of work for Forester starter Kyle Johnston. Johnston earned the win allowing three runs on four hits, with six strikeouts and four walks in six innings of work.
Reliever Chase Wheatcroft tossed a pair of innings, allowing a leadoff single then a walk in the top of the seventh inning. A double steal moved the runners to second and third, then Trevor Abrams and Paul hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to bring the runs home and move the lead to 6-3. Wheatcroft allowed a leadoff single in the eighth, but set the next three batters down in order, and finished with two runs allowed on two hits with a strikeout and a walk.
Santa Barbara added two more runs in the top of the ninth against Justin Friedman, as pinch hitter Andrew Garretson reach on a throwing error to lead off, and the next two batters walked to load the bases. Paul struck out, then McManigal singled to bring in a pair. Friedman finished with one earned run of the two he allowed, with one hit, one strikeout and two balls.
The loss dropped the Halos into a tie for second place with the Foresters, with the Conejo Oaks, leading at 5-3 in CCL play, while Friday’s road trip to San Luis Obispo looms large with the Blues sitting at 3-3 in league action.
Ventura concludes the three-game series with Santa Barbara on Thursday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium at 5 PM. If you can’t make the trip up to UC Santa Barbara, listen live on the Halos Baseball Network beginning at 4:50 PM.