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Santa Barbara Baseball Gets Huge Lift from Derek True’s Complete-Game Performance

Derek True of SBHS baseball
Derek True pitched a complete game for Santa Barbara in a 3-1 win over San Marcos. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

Derek True turned in a solid complete-game pitching performance and Frankie Gamberdella continued to swing a hot bat for the Santa Barbara High baseball team in a 3-1 Channel League win at San Marcos on Friday.

The victory gave the Dons a sweep of their three-game crosstown series, improved their record to 6-0 league and set up a showdown with 5-0 Dos Pueblos next week for the league title. The teams will play a three-game series, beginning Tuesday at Santa Barbara. Wednesday’s game is at DP and Friday’s finale will be back at Eddie Mathews Field.

True had his breaking ball working and he baffled San Marcos’ hitters for most of the game. He ran into a little trouble in the seventh and lost his shutout as he gave up singles to Aaron Ratliff, Isaac Villarreal and Andrew Aragon and a bases-loaded walk to Diego Jasso for a run. 

True got a clutch defensive play from right fielder Kai Uchio in the inning. He made a diving catch of Vince Vogel’s short fly with two runners on.

After assistant coach Wes Warrecker paid a visit to the mound, True refocused and struck out the last two batters to end the game. He fanned seven, walked one and allowed six hits.

“Coach came out last inning and said, ‘We need you to throw your breaking ball for a strike.,’” True said of the conversation with his pitching coach. “It fired me up and I went out and did it."

Frankie Gamberdella Click to view larger
Frankie Gamberdella celebrates after hitting a run-scoring double for Santa Barbara. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

He said he wasn’t fatigued. “Just needed a little break, deep breath, reset, recompose then just go back after them and take them down.”

Santa Barbara head coach Donny Warrecker said True’s outing was just what the team needed.

“Pitching is No. 1 and we needed that start out of him," the coach said. "He pitched a two-hit shutout against La Cañada (on March 24), and that was his best outing of the year. I wanted him to revisit his mindset before that game, to try and recapture that because his last couple of starts have been pretty good but not his best.

“I’m really happy with his performance on the bump.”

True knew what was expected of him.

“It was big, we needed a big start out of me,” he said. “The coaches talked to me about that all week — ‘We really need an A-plus start,’ And that’s what I gave today. I just went in and pounded the zone, got outs and my defense worked.”

True and the Dons got a boost on defense with the return of Tommy Holguin at shortstop. He’d been unable to play on in the field because of a broken bone in his hand.

Holguin made a terrific play in the third inning that showed he was back. The Royals’ Erik Lopez hit a grounder up the middle and Holguin glided in front of the bag, fielded it cleanly and threw the runner out.

“That’s a major league-caliber play up the middle,” Warrecker raved. “That was huge to get the third out and it fired up the team.”

Said Gamberdella: “It’s great to have Tommy back. He really brings a great energy to our team and really helps us out there at short. That was a major-league play right there. It was really exciting to see that he’s back. That statement he made told everyone that he’s back.”

Santa Barbara (11-6 overall) jumped on San Marcos starter Vince Vogel for a run in the first inning. Anthony Firestone singled, Bryce Warrecker drew a walk and Gamberdella hit a two-out single to load the bases. Sophomore Nick Oakley followed with a RBI single.

The Dons put runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, but Vogel came up with big pitches to prevent runs and keep the Royals (7-11-1, 2-4-1) in the game.

Santa Barbara got to him for a pair of runs in the fifth. Firestone led off with a single and Nick Dallow hit a one-out single to right but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. Gamberdella blasted a double to the gap in left-center field to bring home Firestone and advanced to third on a throwing error. Oakley delivered his second run-scoring hit to put the Dons up 3-0.

Gamberdella went 3 for 3 with a RBI and a run scored, while Oakley went 2-4 with two RBI. The hot-hitting pair moved up to the Nos. 5 and 6 spots in the batting order.

“He’s locked in on his hitting zone,”  Warrecker said of Gamberdella's success. “He’s swinging at pitches he can be successful with, he’s laying off pitches where in the past he’d get himself out or get a swing and a miss. He’s Captain Clutch for us right now. That two-out hit was monster. 

“He’s on fire, and I told the guys you might want to rub up against Frank, or give him hug and get some of the magic.”

Gamberdella credited his hot hitting to the extra work he’s put in.

“I’ve just been working after practice,” he said. “I’ve been trying to stick to my approach when I’m up there and looking for my pitch.”

He added that Oakley, too, has been staying after practice to work on hitting.

Warrecker said Oakley's fifth-inning RBI turned out to be huge for the Dons.

“When the game is over, you see how big that third run was,” Warrecker said of Oakley’s RBI with two strikes. “Getting another two-out hit, if he doesn’t get that, you got a 2-1 ballgame with the tying run at third and the winning run on second.”

With the big series against DP on the horizon, Warrecker was pleased how his team stayed focused for Friday’s game.

“We mentioned it in practice,” he said of the DP series. “We talked about how the next game is the most important game —‘We need to take care of business on Friday. We need to grind out this win. And let’s not even talk about the monster of a week the next week is going to be.’”

The Dons can start talking about it now.

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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