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Santa Barbara Turns in Solid Performance, Ends Dos Pueblos’ 16-Game Win Streak

Dons make big plays on defense to contain Chargers' offense in 5-3 victory

Scott Feldman, Santa Barbara pitcher Click to view larger
Scott Feldman came on in relief for Santa Barbara in the fourth inning and stopped a Dos Pueblos rally. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara made the plays on defense and got the clutch hits to beat Dos Pueblos, 5-3, end the Chargers’ 16-game winning streak, claim the first game of the big three-game series and take sole possession of first place in the Channel League baseball race on Tuesday at Scott O’Leary Field.

Game 2 is Wednesday at Santa Barbara’s Eddie Mathews Field. The Dons are 12-6 overall and 7-0 in league and DP is 5-1 and 17-3.

Anthony Firestone tags IsaacCoffey Click to view larger
Santa Barbara High catcher Anthony Firestone tags out Isaac Coffey of Dos Pueblos who was trying to score on a delayed steal. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

The Dons jumped on DP for two runs in the first inning, fell behind in the fourth and reclaimed the lead by scoring three runs in the sixth inning.

Bryce Warrecker, the third Santa Barbara pitcher, escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam in the sixth and retired the Chargers in order in the seventh. The final out put an exclamation point on the Dons’ sterling defensive effort as second baseman Zach Jensen made a diving catch of a pop up by Drew Darke in short right field.

"When he caught that I was so happy because DP’s been up there for quite a while now," said Bryce Warrecker. "We haven’t won league in quite a while and now we’re 7-0. It feels good."

Said Dons coach Donny Warrecker (Bryce's uncle): "That play to end the game with Zach was one of the most exciting plays I’ve ever seen.  A defensive play like that to end the game, that was amazing."

Santa Barbara’s strong defense included first baseman Warrecker throwing out a DP runner at home on an attempted double steal in the first inning; Warrecker fielding a bunt and throwing out DP’s lead runner at third base in the second inning and catcher Anthony Firestone nailing a base stealer at third base in the second.

"Those are the plays you need to make to win really competitive baseball games. Defense was really solid today," said coach Warreker.

"The bunts and steals were just not executed," DP coach George Hedricks said. "We made it easy. That wasn’t a very good job by us. They executed and we didn’t."

Those plays helped starting pitcher Jackson Hamilton. 

The Dons gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Scott Feldman led off with a bloop double down the right-field line off DP starter Nico Martinez, Warrecker was hit by a pitch and the runners moved up on a wild pitch. Nick Dallow singled to score Feldman and Frankie Gamberdella followed with hit up the middle to score Warrecker.

"That double really fired us up. It gave us confidence, we can hit Nico," said coach Warrecker. 

"It definitely set the the table and got us all riled up," said Feldman, who hit a 1-2 fastball from Martinez. "We just ended up putting the ball in play and scoring runs in the first inning, which is huge."

Coach Warrecker said scoring early against a hot DP team was important.

"We wanted to jump on them right away. They were riding a 16-game win streak. They had a lot of confidence coming into the game. We wanted to make a statement in the first inning and try to score some runs," said Warrecker.

Hedricks pointed to a misplayed pop up in foul territory on Bryce Warrecker's at bat that came back to bite the Chargers in the first.

"It goes back to a play where we should have made a play on a foul ball," Hedricks said.

The DP coach wasn't worried about falling behind in the first inning.

"Two runs in the first inning with seven at-bats left, I'm not really too worried about it, not with this offense. I know what we’re capable of," he said. "We had chances to score multiple runs that game and didn't come up with a big hit. We didn’t execute. When you have second and third with less than two outs, you got to get a run in and we failed to do that twice."

Martinez, who was making only his third start of the season, settled down after the first and retired nine in a row before Jensen singled in the fifth and the Dons loaded the bases.

"Getting those two runs in the first and getting Martinez’ pitch count up was big," Warrecker said. "Then he started to strike our guys out. I was saying, ‘Oooh man, those two runs were big right away.’"

Martinez got run support in the fourth. Drew Darke started DP’s rally with a one-out single to left. Dylan Kelley followed with a single before Mason Boelter crushed a two-run double to right-center field to tie the score. Chris Abbott belted a RBI triple to dead center to give the Chargers a 3-2 lead. 

Feldman moved from third baseman to pitcher for the Dons and got the next two outs to end the inning. 

"He did a great job, he threw strikes," coach Warrecker said. "He hadn’t pitched for some time."

Said Feldman: "It felt good to get back on the mound, throw strikes and have a little bit of success."

Santa Barbara threatened in the fifth as Firestone and Warrecker hit back-to-back singles with one out. DP brought in Dylan Ledbetter to pitch and he got a strikeout and a ground out to quell the threat and keep the lead for DP.

"Dylan Ledbetter got out of jam and did a good job," said Hedricks.

Feldman retired DP in order in fifth and the Santa Barbara's offense responded with three runs in the top of the sixth

Nick Oakley and Derek True singled and Kai Uchio laid down a beautiful bunt on the third-base side of the mound. DP’s third baseman charged the ball and threw it away at first, allowing Oakley to come home for the tying run.

"Kai Uchio’s bunt was so clutch," Warrecker said. "Getting that bunt down and forcing the third baseman to field it — and (Uchio is) really fast — that’s a really tricky play because that third baseman is saying, ‘Do I stay home or do I go field the ball? Is the pitcher going to get it?’ It forces a lot of chaos and forced a bad throw and gave us the tying run and put the go-ahead runs in scoring position."

After Jensen hit a high chopper to third for the first out, Feldman hit a bouncer to second and second baseman Caleb Severson threw home, but True beat the tag from catcher Evan Kling to give the Dons a 4-3 lead.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Feldman said of his RBI fielder's choice. "The umpire had a really big zone today — head shoulders, knees and toes."

Firestone grounded to Abbott at third and he threw to first for the out as Uchio ran home to put the Dons up by two runs.

Derek True scores go-ahead run for Santa Barbara Click to view larger
Derek True of Santa Barbara beats the tag from DP catcher Evan Kling to score go-ahead run for the Dons. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

"In sixth, we gave away outs that led to runs," Hedricks said. "Those are easy outs for us. We just didn’t execute and make plays. Credit to them, they did and got the win."

In the bottom of the sixth, Kelley led off with his third hit of the game and Abbott drew a one-out walk. Warrecker replaced Feldman on the mound and hit Charley Cuykendall with a pitch to load the bases. The 6-foot-8 pitcher then struck out pinch hitter Luke Roberts and got Jed Donelan to fly out to right field, keeping the Chargers from cutting into Santa Barbara’s lead.

"I just try and go in there and try to throw strikes," Warrecker said. "We have a really good defense. We can pick it anywhere, so I just try to throw strikes and do my best."

Hedricks is hoping his guys turn things around on Wednesday at Santa Barbara.

"Fortunatley, we have two more games. We need to try to win the series to make sure we stay in contention for the Channel League championship," he said. "It’s tough to lose the first one, especially at home. The guys are going to have rebound tonight, have short turnaround and come back tomorrow."

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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