Feuer puts it together at Royals’ cost

Santa Barbara’s oft-injured Gavin Feuer didn’t feel any pain after pitching six strong innings against San Marcos on Wednesday. Instead, it was the Royals who were grimacing after a 5-3 Channel League loss put their playoff chances at risk.

With one league game remaining for both teams on Thursday, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Marcos all still have a shot at claiming the Channel League’s third and final postseason berth. But the Royals are now on the outside looking in, as they must beat Ventura and have the Dons lose in order to create a 3-way tie for third place and force a Friday playoff. If the Dons beat Dos Pueblos and San Marcos wins, then Santa Barbara claims the playoff spot outright.

As it stands right now, Santa Barbara is 5-6, San Marcos 4-7 and Ventura is 5-6.

PHOTO GALLERY

Feuer earned his first win of the season while striking out six with only one walk. The junior retired the first eight Royals he faced and only allowed three hits for the day. A hamstring tear from last year had continued to cause Feuer problems into this season, but on Wednesday the left-hander may have turned a corner.

“It felt good today, I’m not sore at all right now,” Feuer said after his longest outing since the beginning of the season. “Today was more throwing strikes and letting the defense handle it and it worked out.”

“We’re real glad to have him back,” said Santa Barbara assistant coach Mike Cooney, thankful to gain the extra arm at this time of the season. “If we’re lucky enough to have a playoff game on Friday, it’s gonna be in large part due to him coming in and contributing like that.”

The Dons offense did its job, handing Feuer some run support with two in the first. After the first two batters got on board, Jack Crummer lined a single to center to score leadoff batter Will Allison. Royals starting pitcher Pat Cavalier induced Spencer Fraker to ground out to first in the next at-bat, but Collin Dewell promptly stroked a first-pitch single up the middle that scored Joey Gonzales from third. Jack Crummer attempted to make it 3-0 by coming home from second base, but Royals center fielder Landon Boneck kept the Dons in check by nailing Crummer at the plate.

Cavalier only allowed five hits while turning in a complete game for San Marcos but struggled with his command and recorded six walks. Three of those walks ended up scoring.  

“Pat did a great job. Pat battled,” recognized Royals head coach Rob Crawford. “He had a tough first inning but then he really settled in and did a nice job.”

San Marcos made it a one-run game in the top of the sixth. Brandon Atelian drew a leadoff walk and Boneck followed with a double to deep left field. Both would score on ground balls before the inning was out.

Riley Moore’s seventh inning solo home run to right would have tied it if not for Alex Spatz’s two-out 2-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Dons a 5-2 lead.

“I just tried to relax up there and not think about all the pressure,” said Spatz, a junior who has spent the latter half of the season with the varsity.  

The pressure mounts even more on Thursday for both teams. If the Dons lose and San Marcos wins, these two will be back at it on Friday in a play-in game to decide who gets to go the playoffs.

SANTA BARBARA 5, SAN MARCOS 3

San Marcos 000 002 1 – 3 5 0

Santa Barbara 201 002 X – 5 5 1

SM – Cavalier, and Moore. SB – Feuer, Zandona (7), and Fraker. 2B – SM 1 (Boneck).  HR – SM 1 (Moore, 7th inning, none on). Records – SM 12-12, 4-7. SB 11-13, 5-6.

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