The pressure was on for sophomore right-hander Ryan Speshyock and the Dos Pueblos baseball team in Friday’s critical Channel League game at first-place Santa Barbara High.
Needing a win to keep pace with the Dons, the Chargers were clinging to a 2-1 lead when Santa Barbara’s Cal Wipf led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and advanced to third on a passed ball.
Showing tremendous resiliency and composure, Speshyock regrouped and retired the next three batters to keep the lead.
Dos Pueblos scratched out an insurance run in the seventh, and Speshyock finished off the Dons in order to earn an impressive complete-game 3-1 victory at Eddie Mathews Field.
“We were all strategizing on what we were going to do if the tying run comes in,” DP coach George Hedricks said about the sixth-inning situation. “Ryan kept fighting, kept bearing down on those hitters and executed some good pitches in that inning.”
The win was huge for DP (8-3) as it moved one game back of defending champion Santa Barbara (9-2) and San Marcos (9-2) with four games left.
Speshyock had great movement on his pitches all game and was still hitting the high 80 mph velocity mark on his fastball in the seventh inning. He allowed three hits, walked one and hit a batter in a 79-pitch performance.
“It’s just impressive to see what he’s able to do with his composure,” Hedricks said. “The growth he’s had in a short amount of time — he really didn’t have a varsity year last year.
“Right now, he’s been asked to be the guy, and he doesn’t disappoint when he gets on the mound.”
Speshyock also got great help from his defense, which turned two double plays. Shortstop Greg Marmo made two big plays with runners on. In the third, he fielded a grounder on the outfield grass and fired to second for a force play. Playing up with a runner on third and no outs in the seventh, he stopped a hard grounder and made the putout at first base.
“Greg Marmo’s play was fantastic,” Hedricks raved.
Marmo admitted that he sometimes gets too comfortable in the field when Speshyock is on his game.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Sometimes I lose focus because I know he’s going to mow them down every inning. But (Santa Barbara is) always pulling the ball to shortstop and third base, so I had to be ready and make plays.”
After suffering a 14-3 loss at home on Wednesday, Marmo said the team was relaxed going into Friday’s game. “Made some adjustments, better ABs (at-bats), better infield, get the little things right,” he said of the difference in the win.
Marmo drove in DP’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the second and scored the insurance run on Jackson Greaney’s sac fly in the seventh.
Dos Pueblos took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Santa Barbara starter Luke Wechsler. With one out, Josh Brennan singled and went to third after an attempted pick-off play went awry on the rundown. Joe Talarico drew a walk and Marmo followed with his RBI sac fly.
“We can’t give outs away,” Santa Barbara coach Steve Schuck said of the blown pickoff.
The Chargers made it 2-0 in the third inning as Kellan Montgomery’s bloop single to left field scored Dylon Bailey, who reached on a fielder’s choice and hustled to third base on Greaney’s single to left.
Sam Russell scored in the bottom of the third for Santa Barbara. He was OK after getting hit in the helmet by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a single by Wipf and scored on a fielder’s choice from Dane Dawson.
Schuck expressed disappointment in his team’s play.
“We just gave away too much stuff today,” he said. “Man on third base, nobody out, I mean, come on … You got to do something. We weren’t competitors in the box today. We were not where we needed to be, especially against a team like this.”
As a league leader, Schuck said his guys need to learn how to play when they’re out front.
“You know, all year they’ve heard that DP and SM are the teams to beat,” he said. “So they’ve been playing kind of like the hunter role. And, right now, the reality is they’re the hunted. So they got learn how to play up front and keep that competitive spirit.”
Santa Barbara plays Santa Ynez next week and Lompoc in the final week of the season. Dos Pueblos takes on Cabrillo next week and finishes the season with two games against San Marcos.