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Antonio Andrade Delivers in Clutch, Santa Barbara Edges Ventura, 3-2

Santa Barbara players mob Antonio Andrade after his game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara players mob Antonio Andrade after his game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The game got away from Santa Barbara High senior catcher Antonio Andrade, and the Dons found themselves behind, 2-0, going into the bottom of the seventh inning against Ventura on Friday at Eddie Mathews Field.

Andrade, however, kept his head in the game and delivered in the clutch. He followed Tommy Holguin’s two-run double with a two-out walk-off single, lifting Santa Barbara to a 3-2 win over the Cougars and giving the series to the Dons.

Santa Barbara improved to 6-4 in Channel League and 9-13 overall while Ventura fell to 3-2-1 and 10-8-2.

“This game is crazy,” said the Occidental-bound Andrade. “The game will find you, and I had a feeling the game would find me. I was pretty unsatisfied with myself after the defensive outing and then it was really cool to get some production.”

Andrade had a rough couple of innings behind the plate and Ventura capitalized by scoring two runs without a hit.  An errant throw to third base after a passed ball allowed pinch runner Gabe Levasseur to score and give Ventura a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning. Levasseur was running for Ralph Hernandez, who led off the inning with a walk.

“That’s the thing about baseball, you got to slow it down,” Andrade said. “The game sped up on me right there. I didn't block the ball and then I tried to do too much.”

Santa Barbara coach Donny Warrecker visited the mound to calm Palme after the first run and told him: “Antonio is going to get that run back the next inning.”

In the seventh, Tommy Matsuyama led off with a walk and Warrecker pulled Palme and brought in Tim Piozet. Matsuyama reached third after an overthrow on his steal of second and scored on wild pitch.

“After the errors, my heart was down, there were tears in my eyes,” said Andrade. “Thank God, Tommy got a huge hit. Oh my God, that was incredible. It set everything up.”

Caleb Norton scores the game-tying run on a double by Tommy Holguin in the seventh inning. Click to view larger
Caleb Norton scores the game-tying run on a double by Tommy Holguin in the seventh inning. (JC Corlisss / Noozhawk photo)

Logan Foy led off the Santa Barbara seventh with an infield single, Caleb Norton reached first on an error at second base and Linus Holmberg singled to left to load the bases with one out. After Zach Jensen fouled out to the first baseman, Holguin laced a ground-rule double to right field, scoring Foy and Norton to tie the score at 2-2.  Andrade followed with a single to center to score Holmberg for the game-winning run.

Piozet got the pitching win.

Palme allowed only an infield hit in the fourth when Matsuyama beat out a roller to deep shortstop.

“We’re not hitting the way we’ve been hitting and the guys are a little flat right now, but they’ll come around,” said Ventura coach Sam Triana.

He added that his defense has to make the plays on the two ground balls the Dons hit in the seventh inning.

“Championship teams make those plays,” he said. “Manny (starter pitcher Manny Jaquez) got his ground balls. He got six outs. The guys just didn’t make the plays behind him.”

Five of Santa Barbara’s league wins have been one-run games.

“I think it’s really cool we have all these one-run games and we’re learning how to win really, really close games,” said Andrade. "It’s big for us. It’s big stuff.”

Ventura played the game under protest. Warrecker said Ventura accused the Dons of playing soft toss before the game, which is a violation of CIF rules.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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