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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 10:47 am | Fair 62º

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Zach Jensen’s Batting Adjustment Pays Off for Santa Barbara in 4-2 Victory

Second baseman belts a three-run homer for Dons in Channel League opener against Buena

Zach Jensen leaps to home plate as his Santa Barbara teammates wait to mob him after his go-ahead, three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Zach Jensen leaps to home plate as his Santa Barbara teammates wait to mob him after his go-ahead, three-run homer in the fourth inning. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

Santa Barbara High baseball player Zach Jensen is known to have fast hands when he swings the bat.

But coach Donny Warrecker noticed something wasn’t right in Jensen's swing after he popped out to the pitcher in his first at-bat in Friday’s Channel League opener against Buena.

Jensen made an adjustment and it paid off big for him and the Dons.

The senior slugged a three-run homer in the fourth inning to lift Santa Barbara to a 4-2 comeback win at Eddie Mathews Field.

Jensen hit a fastball off Buena starter Jerret Howery over the left-field fence, driving in Bryce Warrecker and Tommy Holguin, who was pinch running for Nick Dallow.

Down 2-0, Warrecker singled to score Anthony Firestone, who led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a pair of passed balls. Dallow followed with walk to bring up Jensen with no outs.

The senior second baseman hit a towering flyball over the left field fence.

“I was looking for a fastball in, that’s my pitch,” Jensen said. “I got it and put a good swing on it.”

It was great adjustment after his at bat.

“He tends to be a little bit of an anxious hitter and he casted on an inside pitch,” Warrecker said of Jensen’s first plate appearance against Howery. “I talked to him after his first at bat and told him you don’t have to cheat and cast. You have the fastest hands in So Cal — someone said that in practice the other day. So it was nice to see on a fastball inside he kept his hands inside and got the big hit for us.”

Said Jensen: “I have fast hands and I tend to get big on inside pitches, so (coach Warrecker) just told me to stay inside. I took his advice and it worked well.”

Jensen wasn’t sure the ball was going to leave the park.

“I thought it was going to be short, honesty,  but it kept carrying. That was good,” he said.

“I’m not sure Zach knew he had that kind of power,” cracked Warrecker.

Jensen’s blast made a winner of Derek True, who was making his first start of the season.

“He was our closer and he’s pitched really well in the closer role,” Warrecker said. “We decided going into league to move Derek from the closer role to the starter. It’s his first time starting this season and it’s a league game, but he gave us four solid (innings). He did a great job.”

True allowed two unearned runs and five hits, struck out five and walked two in four innings.

Bryce Warrecker pitched three shutout innings to earn the save. He gave up three hits, hit a batter and walked one, and pitched out of a jam in the seventh, stranding the tying run at second base.

“Bryce has been really solid in relief,” said Donny Warrecker, his uncle. “He’s a strike thrower — throws a fastball and breaking ball for strikes. That was really nice to see in a pressure situation with the tying run on second base.”

Santa Barbara third baseman Scott Feldman  tags out Buena’s Jacob Martinez after shortstop Kai Uchio fielded a ground ball in the hole in the seventh inning. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara third baseman Scott Feldman tags out Buena’s Jacob Martinez after shortstop Kai Uchio fielded a ground ball in the hole in the seventh inning. (Lisa Ishikawa photo)

The Dons fell behind 2-0 in the second inning, as Buena capitalized on a two-out walk and an error by the shortstop. Chris Allen and Justin Franckowiak followed with back-to-back RBI singles before True got a strikeout to end the inning.

Santa Barbara shortstop Kai Uchio rebounded from his miscue with some excellent defensive plays. He was involved in eight plays after the second inning. Among his plays was tagging out a Buena runner at second base after a throw from right fielder Logan Foy and a relay from second baseman Jensen in the fifth inning. In the sixth, he turned a force play at second base and erased a baserunner at third in the seventh inning after fielding a ball in the hole.

“He righted himself and hung in there,” coach Warrecker said of Uchio.

Firestone went 3 for 3 with a double and a run scored, and Bryce Warrecker was 2-3 with a RBI and a run.

Warrecker was pleased how his team stayed composed after falling behind.

“Being down by two runs, they didn’t press and didn’t try to do too much,” he said. “They kept their cool and that was really good to see. I was curious to see how we were going to respond, and getting the lead back was huge.”

Santa Barbara is 4-2 on the season.

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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