Home not so sweet this time for Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara High’s young baseball team dropped its first home game of the year on Friday, and the Dons’ biggest nemesis was themselves.

“It wasn’t so much about hitting and pitching, it was more mental and fielding mistakes,” noted SBHS assistant coach Mike Cooney, following a 6-3 Channel League loss to Ventura at Eddie Mathews Field. “Just little things that are adding up that lead to defeats instead of victories.”

Dennis Doherty was double trouble for the Cougars (7-14, 4-3), who beat the Dons for the second time in four days. Doherty pitched six innings to earn the victory and was a terror at the plate with three doubles and three RBIs.

The Dons, who start seven sophomores, fell to 4-1 at home. They took a 1-0 lead in the first when Will Allison scored on a fielder’s choice by Collin Dewell. Jack Crummer, who started the day as the Channel League batting leader at .568, and Spencer Fraker singled to load the bases.

After a strikeout for the second out, the Dons (8-9, 2-4) tried a play with Crummer running halfway to third base. The catcher ran out from behind the plate, faked a throw to second and got Dewell in a pickle to end the threat.

“We had two strikes on the batter and the baserunner at third was supposed to wait until the catcher threw it,” explained Cooney.

Ventura took a 2-1 lead in the third on a throwing error that brought in the first run and Nick Griffith’s RBI single. The visitors extended the lead to 5-1 in the fifth on two-run double to center by Doherty and Brendan Carr’s RBI single to right.

Santa Barbara struck back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Danny Zandona led off with a hit and Allison walked. Joey Gonzales drove in a run with an opposite-field single and Allison scored on Dewell’s safety squeeze bunt.

Dewell drove in three runs without a hit. Allison, the leadoff batter, scored all three times, including the seventh when he opened with a walk, went to third on Gonzales’ second hit and scored a groundout by Dewell.

Dewell, a sophomore left-hander, went four-plus innings for the Dons, allowing four runs on five hits with six strikeouts.

Trailing 6-2, Pepe Gil singled to start the sixth but was thrown out easily at second by the left fielder. Trey Barrett was picked off third by the catcher for the third out.

SBHS coach Fred Warrecker had a 25-minute session with his team after the fourth loss in five games.

“We told the guys this is the crucial part of our season — we’re either going to bump along and play it out or we’re going to turn it around,” said Cooney. “We realize you’re only sophomores but you’re older now and more experienced than you were at the beginning of the season.”

It’s the midway point of the Channel League campaign and the Dons are only one game out of first in the loss column with six to play.

“It’s still anybody’s league,” said Cooney. “The winner probably won’t be more than 8-4. You could be 6-6 and still finish third. We just need to settle down and play like we can.”

The Dons play host to Buena on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.


Ventura ……………… 002 031 0 — 6   9  1

Santa Barbara …… 100 020 0 — 3 10  2

Doherty, Russell (7) and Castro; Dewell, Fueur (5), Crawford (7) and Fraker. W–Doherty. L–Dewell (1-5).

2B–V: Russell, Doherty 3.

Records–V 7-14, 4-3. SB 8-9, 2-4.