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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 10:37 pm | Fair 46º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

John Jensen’s Two-Run Homer Lifts SBCC Over L.A. Pierce

John Jensen is greeted by SBCC teammates at home plate after hitting a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh inning. Click to view larger
John Jensen is greeted by SBCC teammates at home plate after hitting a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh inning. (Dave Loveton / Noozhawk photo)

SBCC overcame a 7-0 deficit and a plethora of walks to beat L.A. Pierce 11-8 on Saturday in a nonconference baseball game at Pershing Park.

John Jensen broke a 7-7 tie with a towering, two-run homer to right-center in the seventh. Jensen, a sophomore outfielder who’s signed with UC Irvine, went 2-5 with a double, his first homer and three RBIs. Catcher Mitch Sancier was 2-3 with a double and three RBIs.

Five of the Vaqueros’ 13 hits were doubles. Five pitchers combined to strike out 13 but they also walked nine and hit three batters.
Santa Barbara took two out of three from Pierce in the last three days, improving to 4-0 at home and 5-4 overall. The Brahmas are 2-6. 

Vaquero starter Jayden Metz had a rough outing, walking five of seven batters and leaving after walking the first two batters in the second inning. JJ Gonzalez had a three-run double in the third and Michael Tillman added a three-run homer in the fourth to make it 7-0.

“We just continued to battle, our dugout never gave up,” said Jensen, a former Santa Barbara High star. “We’ve been talking about how we’re a family and we want to be a family that finishes games out. We usually have really good energy in the beginning of games but we’re trying to finish strong. We got on the right track today and we’re looking good going forward.” 

Jonathan Lavallee held the Vaqueros to one hit in the first three innings when he faced just nine batters. The Vaqueros got going in the fourth when Reinhard Lautz was hit by a pitch and Jensen and Phil Quartararo followed with back-to-back RBI doubles. Sancier drove in Quartararo with a single to right and Jake Holton, who had walked, scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-4.

“When we were down 7-0, I told the guys to mark every inning and just keep chipping away,” said Jensen. “I told ‘em, ‘Let’s have good at-bats, put the ball in play and the rest will take care of itself.’

“I’ve been struggling at the plate and I got a good pitch to hit in the seventh. That was good for my confidence and I just wanted to help my team win.”

Joe Kinsky came on in relief in the second and got a groundout, a strikeout and a flyout to halt their two-on, no-out threat. Steven Elliott and winning pitcher Yeager George kept the Brahmas quiet with 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball.

Holton played third base for the first seven innings, then took the mound in the eighth with a 10-7 lead. He gave up an unearned run in the eighth after a controversial strikeout that was overruled kept the inning alive.

Holton struck out four for his third save and got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth by inducing Gabe Curtier to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

“The good news is when you fall behind that early, you have a lot of time to catch up,” stated seventh-year coach Jeff Walker. “Last game of a three-game series, I think the pitching was a little depleted on both sides.

“Our dugout was more engaged, we were more positive and we stayed on our side. The game-changer was Kinsky coming in with some energy and Steven Elliott came in and pitched like the Steven Elliott we know from last year. That gave us the momentum.”

The Vaqueros will play four of the next five on the road, starting Tuesday at East L.A. with the first pitch at 2 p.m.

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