Irvine, Calif. – After Tuesday night’s 14-4 loss to the Arroyo Seco Saints to open California Collegiate League (CCL) conference play and snap a five-game win streak, the OC Riptide lost to the Santa Barbara Foresters 4-1 on Wednesday. UNLV’s Eric Bigani went 1-4 and logged the only RBI for Orange County as Cornell’s Spencer Edwards tossed four innings in his starting appearance and gave up one run.
Wednesday night’s home loss to the Foresters was the tenth game of the 2021 season for the Riptide and the sixth for the Foresters who came into the evening riding a 5-0 start to the year. The loss dropped Orange County to a 6-4 overall record in 2021.
The Riptide were able to find the scoreboard quickly in their half of the first inning courtesy of Eric Bigani’s single and team-leading ninth RBI of the season. It came with two outs and scored UNLV teammate Jack-Thomas Wold who drew an impressive 12-pitch walk that included eight foul balls two batters prior and worked himself into scoring position. As a catcher with plus hitting abilities, Bigani has been a very consistent bat for the Riptide as shown by his .421 batting average while also playing solid defense behind the dish.
The Foresters were held in check by Riptide starting pitcher Spencer Edwards (Cornell) in the first two innings with no runs scored, but finally threatened in the top of the third by loading the bases with one out thanks to a pair of walks and a base hit. They were able to cash in and tie the game on a wild pitch that allowed one man to cross home and the others to move up a base. The bases would be loaded again soon after another walk, but Edwards stranded them with a strikeout and a groundout to keep the game tied entering the middle innings.
Shawn Hepler (Xavier) took the mound to begin the fifth and replace Edwards, who tossed four innings in his fourth appearance of the summer and allowed one run on four hits, walked four, and totaled six punchouts. Hepler would have to work around a one-out double in his first inning of work to try and keep the game tied but was unable to after a double into left-center brought home the go-ahead run. He was able to induce a flyout and get a strikeout though to limit the damage.
But an inning later the Foresters came back to score their third run with one out on an RBI single that put men on the corners. Riptide head coach Mitch LeVier went to his bullpen for the third time and went with Arkansas‘ Matthew Magre who stranded both men as the score remained 3-1. Then in the top of the seventh Santa Barbara scratched across a run for the third straight inning as the deficit sat at three with three frames to go.
Magre and Cal Poly Pomona’s Hunter Ash were able to quiet the Santa Barbara bats in the 8th and 9th, but the Foresters pitching staff continued to keep the Riptide off balance unfortunately as baserunners came far and few inbetween in every inning except the first. Their trio of pitchers combined to allow one run on four hits, four walks, and struck out 11 as the final score read 4-1.
LeVier said that the offense simply couldn’t find big hits with runners in scoring position and that they will have to be more productive in those situations to get the team’s energy up.
“We’ve got to get more productive at-bats with runners in scoring position,” said LeVier. “I think it kind of sparks our team and our energy when we get the bats going. Pitching was a lot better today with Spencer Edwards too.”
The Riptide (6-3) will look to break a two-game skid in game three of a four-game homestand against the MLB Academy Barons on Thursday night. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. PST from OC Great Park. The game can be live-streamed on the Riptide Youtube channel.
The Riptide will wrap up their homestand on Friday night when they welcome the Ventura Pirates before hitting two straight road games in rematches against the Foresters and Saints.
OC Riptide vs. Santa Barbara Foresters June 23, 2021 – Box Score