Brakka gets plenty of run support; Royals beat Dons

Jimmy Brakka, at the plate here, made his contribution on the mound, earning his first win of the year. He also had an RBI-single in the third inning and scored a run in the fifth.

A hard-luck pitcher during the season, Jimmy Brakka of San Marcos finally got some run support and notched his first win on Friday.

Making the occasion sweeter for the senior lefthander, the result came against crosstown rival Santa Barbara in a key Channel League baseball game at Joe Mueller Field. Brakka pitched solid 5.2 innings and San Marcos scored six runs in the fifth en route to a 9-4 win over the Dons.

The victory improves San Marcos to 3-5 in league play and 9-10 overall. Santa Barbara, the defending league champion, falls to 2-5 and 11-8.

Brakka has pitched well this season but the Royals have struggled at the plate to help him get a win.

It got to the point where his teammates started joking about it.

“They gave me crap all the time for that,” he said with a smile. “The joke is we have (Anthony) Branch, who is 3-1 or something. He started one game that he’s won. He’s a vulture. He just sits around waiting to get the wins.”

Brakka got plenty of run support to complement his good pitching performance for his first career win against Santa Barbara. He contributed to the offense with a run-scoring single in the third inning, driving in Travis Caesar, who singled and moved to third on a throwing error.

The Royals capitalized on two Santa Barbara errors and a passed ball in the inning to take a 2-0 lead against Dons starter Kenny Crawford. Joe Prince scored on the passed ball.

San Marcos, which three days earlier was routed 19-2 at Santa Barbara, jumped on the Dons for six runs in the fifth. The Royals took advantage of an infield error, a hit batter, wild pitch, two walks and four hits in the inning — Caesar had two of them, one a RBI single. Evan Doherty hit a two-run double down the left-field line, Wesley Ghan-Gibson had a RBI single, Michael Guzzardi drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Caesar scored on a wild pitch.

Caesar, the Royals’ leadoff hitter, went 3-for-3 and scored two runs.

“I felt good with a short, compact swing, and giving Jimmy some runs,” said Caesar.

He noted the team used Tuesday’s lopsided loss to propel them on Friday. “We wanted revenge.”

“The kids came back with a much better attitude and focus,” San Marcos assistant coach Michael Sandford said. “They flushed that game like a toilet. You have to have toilet brains in this game. You just flush it out and you’re done with it. You can’t dwell on the failures.”

Santa Barbara coach Fred Warrecker said Friday’s game came down to a couple of plays in the sixth inning.

“We make a play or two, they don’t score any of those runs and that changes the game completely,” he said.

The Dons put together a three-run rally the sixth inning against a tiring Brakka. Johnny Brontsema had a RBI single, Kees t’Sas drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Michael Day scored on a wild pitch.

Brakka made a huge defensive play to stymie Santa Barbara’s comeback attempt, picking off a runner at first base. Branch came on in relief and ended the inning with a flyout.

“Brakka was strong in the beginning; he’s a good pitcher,” Warrecker said. “He finally ran out of gas. For us, it was too little, too late. So it’s a good win for them, but we did an awful lot to help them.”

The Royals added a run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 9-3. Brakka got hit by a pitch with one out, moved to third on a ground out and a wild pitch, and scored on the Dons’ fifth error of the game.

Zach Torres singled to open the seventh for Santa Barbara, and the Royals brought in Joe Prince to close out the game. He gave up a RBI single to Connor McManigal and hit a batter before retiring the next two batters to end the game.

Santa Barbara…000 003 1 — 4 5 5
San Marcos…002 0601 — 9 8 0
Crawford, Churchill (5), Smith (5) and St. John; Brakka, Branch (6), Prince (7) and MacDuffee. W—Brakka (1-4). L—Crawford (4-2).
2B—SB: t’Sas. SM: Doherty, MacDuffee.