Dons continue offensive assault, rout Royals 10-0

Since taking some lumps at the Anaheim Lions Tournament during spring break, the Santa Barbara baseball team has been breaking opponents with some heavy hitting.

The Dons pounded 14 hits on Tuesday to back the shutout pitching of Danny Zandona in a 10-0 Channel League win at San Marcos.

It was the fourth game out of the last five that Santa Barbara scored in double figures — the one it didn’t, it scored nine — and the second straight 10-0 shutout for Zandona, who improved to 6-1.

The Dons lost three straight and scored a combined eight runs against strong Orange County teams at the Anaheim tournament before punishing Bountiful, Utah, 13-1 in their final tourney game.

They’ve been on fire ever since.

On Tuesday, they took advantage of a fly ball lost in the gray sky by the left fielder and a bad-hop single over the shortstop’s head to score four runs in the first inning. Zandona drove in two runs with a double and Pepe Gil and Lucas Benenati added RBIs.

Santa Barbara scored two in the second on a two-out double by Kees t’Sas, and picked up two more runs in the third on a single by Cam Gniadek to go up 8-0.

“Ever since we went down to the Anaheim tournament, we finished up there with 13, came back and scored nine against Thousand Oaks, 10 against Buena, 11 against Buena and 10 today,” said Santa Barbara coach Fred Warrecker.

The hitting has been infectious. Catcher Colin Eaton, who had been struggling at the plate earlier in the season, caught the fever. He hit doubles to right field and left field and drove in the 10th run.

“I’ve just been seeing the ball lately,” Eaton said. “When I get the inside pitch I like to drive it, and when I got the away pitch I drove it to the other side, that was great. It’s good feeling.”

Gil went 3-for-4 with a RBI and Gniadek had two hits.

While everything is going well for the Dons (15-4, 6-0), San Marcos (2-12, 0-7) can’t catch a break. The lost fly ball would have been the third out of the inning and no runs would have scored.

In the bottom of the first, Isaac Rodriguez reached first on a fielder’s choice and Jimmy Brakka drilled a ball to center that got by the center fielder. Rodriguez was waved home but was thrown out at the plate by the shortstop, Benenati.

In the fourth, Brakka was at third when Zach Colegrove hit a ball that bounced off the arm of Dons’ first baseman Gil and ricocheted toward second base. Fraker fielded the ball and barely beat Colegrove with his throw for the third out, denying the Royals from breaking the shutout.

San Marcos coach Tony Vanetti rolled his head in exasperation in the first base coaching box after the umpire’s call.

“It’s a game of inches,” Vanetti said. “We get a break, an inch one way or another, maybe we win the game.

“It’s hard to give up outs against a good team like Santa Barbara,” he added about the misplays in the field. “They swing the bat. We got to make plays defensively. I thought our pitchers pitched a good game and our approach was way better at the plate.”

Now, it’s a matter of the Royals getting some breaks.

“Once we get over the hump, we’ll win one, two or three,” said Vanetti.

Zandona admitted he didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, but the senior right-hander had an effective changeup that baffled Royals’ slugger Riley Moore.

“He’s a rock, I love catching him,” said Eaton of Zandona. “All of his pitches worked. His change-up worked really well. He got Moore a couple of times and he had Brakkla off balance. With a fastball, curveballl and now a change-up, he’s deadly.”

Warrecker was impressed.

“The couple of changes he threw to their best hitters were really special,” said the coach.

Zandona, who scattered seven hits and struck out three, said he’s had better days, but he was pleased at how the change-up worked.

“I was able to kind of make it work,” he said. “I couldn’t get my curve ball over early in the game, like the first four innings, but I settled down and threw a couple of change-ups, too. That really started working out later in the game.”

The Dons and Royals play again on Thursday at Eddie Mathews Field.

Santa Barbara…422 101 0 — 10 14 2
San Marcos…000 000 0 — 0 7 2
Zandona and Eaton; Colegrove, Sailors (5) and Moore. W—Zandona (6-1). L—Colegrove (1-2).

2B—SB: Eaton 2, Gil.

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