Things are going well for the Santa Barbara High baseball team right now.
The Dons took advantage of some sloppy defense by Dos Pueblos in the first inning, stole five bases and got a pair of run-scoring doubles from Nick Dallow and Bryce Warrecker to score seven runs en route to a 13-7 victory in the rubber game of the three-game Channel League series on Friday at Eddie Mathews Field.
Santa Barbara won the last two games of the series.
The victory, combined with Santa Ynez’s 3-2 loss against Lompoc, puts Santa Barbara in sole possession of first place in the Channel League at 5-2. Santa Ynez is in second place at 4-3 and Dos Pueblos is in third at 3-4.
“Every game we get more opportunistic,” Santa Barbara coach Steve Schuck of capitalizing on DP’s errors in the first inning. “We’re just hitting the ball. That’s what we emphasize here. I came here and everybody said we bunt we bunt, we bunt. That’s not my mindset.
“We’re going to take our hacks and we’re going to crash and burn with that. It’s fun to see these guys loose and free, letting the swings go. It’s awesome.”
Anthony Firestone went 2-for-2, reached base four times and scored three runs. Starting pitcher Derek True had four RBI, including a two-run homer, Nick Dallow and Warrecker doubled in runs and Jackson Hamilton had a RBI single.
The Dons did their greatest damage in the first inning with two outs, taking advantage of three errors.
Firestone singled with one out, stole second and scored on a two-out double to left by Dallow.
Things then fell apart for DP and starter Nico Martinez. Dallow scored when Frankie Gamberdella’s hit was bobbled by the first baseman. Gamberdella stole second and third and scored the third run on a throwing error on Jordan Harris’ ground ball to shortstop. Warrecker followed with a RBI double to right field for a 4-0 lead.
Hamilton singled to left to bring in Warrecker, stole second and scored the sixth run of the inning on a dropped third strike on batter Kai Uchio and an overthrow to first base. The ball went down the line in right field and Uchio hustled around the base paths and scored, putting the Dons ahead 7-0.
Uchio said the last time he scored on a play like that was when he was 6 and playing T-Ball.
DP coach George Hedricks said the six unearned runs proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
“We should have gotten out of that inning with one run and instead it kind of spiraled and kept spiraling,” Hedricks said. “I was proud of our guys for at least showing some fight on offense twice late in the game to at least get something going. It’s tough to do after an inning like that.”
Hedricks noted that this is the first time his Chargers have been behind in the standings and his players might be pressing.
“I know we’re better than this. I think we’re pressing a little bit. We’re not used to being in this position (out of first place). We haven’t been in this position since I’ve been around. It’s new for us and it’s going to be a test. How do we react to it, how do we fight back? There’s a lot of Channel League left. We we need to find our way, whatever that is, and make adjustments. We got to be better, we got play better.”
Santa Barbara added two runs in the second to go up 9-0. True singled home Firestone, who started the inning with a walk, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. True stole second and scored on a one-out single to right by Gamberdella.
The Dons stole eight bases and had 10 hits in the game
“We’re starting to round out right now,” Schuck said. “We’re not there yet, but this is a fun, exciting team. We’ll run and be aggressive.”
Dos Pueblos got its bats going against True in the fourth inning and scored four runs. The Chargers loaded the bases on a walk to Mason Boelter, a single to right by Martinez and a bunt single by Connor Gleissner. Nate Jordan singled to score Boelter and Dylan Ledbetter and Nate Feldhaus drew run-scoring walks. After the Dons got a force out at the plate on David Leon’s grounder to third, Evan Steinberger hit a sacrifice fly to score Ledbetter to make it a 9-4 game.
DP still had a runner at second when Luke Roberts hit a ball into right field that appeared to be dropping for a hit. But the Dons’ Carter Park, who was just switched from left field, robbed Roberts with a diving catch for the third out.
“He’s an athlete,” said Schuck of Park.
True was lifted after the fourth and replaced by Hamilton.
He batted in the bottom of the fourth and smacked a two-run homer off Ledbetter over the left field fence to put the Dons ahead 11-4.
“We got that big inning. Unfortunately, we let them answer back as well. That was tough,” said Hedricks.
“It felt pretty good,” True said of his second homer of the season. “It was a hanging curve ball.”
The homer seemed to help True get over his frustrating fourth inning on the mound
“The fourth inning, it didn’t really go how I wanted to,” he said. “I had to come back in a big way, so that was pretty good — a good bounce back from that rough inning.”
Said Schuck: ‘Derek is just a warrior. We talk about in this game there’s going to be adversity and whoever can overcome the adversity usually wins. I pulled him aside and said, ‘Hey, there’s our challenge. Now let’s challenge back.’”
Gamberdella reached base on an error and scored the 12th run on a single by Harris.
A sacrifice fly by True scored Nick Oakley in the fifth inning to make it 13-4.
Dos Pueblos put together a three-run seventh against Hamilton, who was making only his second outing on the mound. Martinez had a RBI single and Ledbetter hit a two-run single before Hamilton got the final two outs on a strikeout and a pop-up to shortstop.
‘Jackson threw really well today,” said True. “The last inning probably didn’t go as well as he wanted to but he got the job.
“Overall, it was a good team win, a good team win to take the series.”
Said Schuck: “Everybody picks everybody up on this team. It’s really fun to watch the unselfishness and guys wanting their teammates to succeed almost more than they want to succeed themselves. That’s when you get a really good team.”