Jake Forrester’s pitching delivery, which is three-quarters in nature, has always been smooth. The fastball was on the plus side even as a freshman, when he first became a staple in Umpqua Valley Christian’s rotation.
Something’s changed, though, because the numbers have never looked quite like this. And it was more of the same Friday night from Forrester during UVC’s 11-0 win over Oakland at Legion Field.
The junior right-hander went all five innings of the mercy-rule shortened game, and the only thing between him and a perfect game was a second-inning error behind him. The Oakers (6-1 overall, 4-1 Big Fir League) averaged 9.7 runs per game before the night started but had few encouraging moments by night’s end.
After a five-pitch first inning that produced three groundouts, Forrester recorded 11 of his last 12 outs via strikeout. In 28 innings pitched over his last five outings, he’s piled up 59 strikeouts, eight walks and yielded three hits.
One-hitter, one-hitter, one-hitter, combined no-hitter, no-hitter. That’s what those outings look like side by side.
“He’s on a crazy run — just crazy,” Monarchs coach Dave York said. “It’s pretty weird.”
The Monarchs nickled-and-dimed the Oakers for nine runs in the third inning, so knocking them out of first place was a breeze. Right fielder Ian Dahl scored twice in the frame and knocked in a run. He and Danny Medak both had two hits and two RBIs.
The result put the teams in a second-place tie at 4-1, one game behind Riddle with the first half of BFL play one game from completion.
“It really sets us up in the league race,” said Dahl. “When we pitch it and play defense behind our pitcher, we can play with the best teams in the state and that’s what this was.”
Though the Monarchs have struggled with consistency — a night earlier they committed eight errors in a 13-8 loss to Bandon — they are, without question, the best version of themselves behind Forrester, who has never been better than he is now.
York sees Forrester maturing with two seasons already in his back pocket.
“It’s his composure, his character and his consistency that’s really showing right now,” York said. “He doesn’t let things bother him like he used to; he doesn’t get upset. He’s the same guy down 2-0 as he is 0-2.”
Forrester said he had the benefit of learning from college instructors in the offseason, but additional strength is also a factor. Against the Oakers, 10 of his 11 punch-outs were recorded via swings-and-misses.
“At times I thought I got a little messed up with my mechanics but coach always gets me back,” Forrester said. “That first inning got me comfortable, gave me some focus and confidence in my defense and I was good from there.”
The offense was plentiful, too. The Monarchs were on the board two at-bats into the game, as Joel Graham singled and went to second on a wild pitch and Dahl singled him in. Medak made it 2-0 with two outs, singling off of shorstop Mike Yard’s glove.
The Monarchs knocked out Oakland starter Ryan Comstock in the third with the help of four bases on balls, two errors, a passed ball on a strikeout and a handful of seeing-eye hits.
Greg Suhrstedt’s double off the base of the leftfield wall to make it 3-0 was the only extra-base hit of the night. He had two RBIs and scored a run.
Oakland 000 00 — 0 0 2
Home 209 0x — 11 8 1
Comstock, Yard (3) and Bailey; Forrester and Suhrstedt. WP — Forrester. LP — Comstock. 2B — Suhrstedt (UVC).