BB: Dons honor Chavez; drop season opener to PV

The parents of Simon Chavez get hugs from Dons players

The parents of Simon Chavez, Ana and Luis, get hugs from Dons players Johnny Brontsema and Skyler Sabado after throwing out the first pitch on Tuesday at Eddie Mathews Field.

Santa Barbara High missed an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth inning and visiting Pioneer Valley made the Dons pay.

The Panthers scored three runs in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie and spoiled Santa Barbara?s baseball opener with a 4-1 win at Eddie Mathews Field on Tuesday.

Dozens of balloons were released into the air during the pregame ceremony. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Dozens of balloons were released into the air during the pregame ceremony. (Presidio Sports Photos)

The game was part of the Central Coast Tournament.

The day started with a tribute to former Dons player and coach Simon Chavez, who died on Jan. 15. Chavez?s parents threw out the first pitch and the players, lined up along the first and third base lines, released green, gold and white balloons into the air.

The Dons got a run in the first inning on a two-out double by Michael Day. Day drove in Connor McManigal, who led off with a single and was bunted to second. Jeff Paschke, who reached first after being hit by a pitch, tried to score from first on the double but he was thrown out at the plate.

Santa Barbara had a chance to take the lead in the fourth when Johnny Brontsema opened the inning with a triple to the fence in left-center field. But Pioneer Valley pitcher Oscar Gill stymied the Dons. He got the next two batters to pop out and got the third out on a grounder to shortstop.

Gill went the distance for the Panthers. He allowed three hits and didn?t walk a batter.

?The pitcher for Pioneer Valley was real effective against our hitters,? Santa Barbara assistant Mike Cooney said. ?He threw fastballs that tailed really well. On both pop outs, the ball came in on their hands.?

Evan Smith got the start for the Dons and he went four innings, allowing one earned run and four hits, while strike out five.

Pioneer Valley capitalized on a couple of Santa Barbara errors to score three times in the fifth. Gill drove in one of the runs with a single.

The Dons are back in Central Coast Tournament action on Thursday at Arroyo Grande.

On Saturday, they?ll participate in a 100-inning baseball marathon at Eddie Mathews Field. The 10 a.m. event is a fundraiser for the baseball program. Varsity, JV and freshman players will take part in the marathon.

In addition, there will be a ceremony to dedicate the recently completed batting cage.

The Santa Barbara Baseball Parent Association is organizing the fundraiser.

Santa Barbara High's Evan Smith started the season opener, striking out five batters in four innings.

Santa Barbara High’s Evan Smith started the season opener, striking out five batters in four innings.

The Chavez Family embraced on the mound as balloons were released into the sky and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" played over the loudspeaker

The Chavez Family embraced on the mound as balloons were released into the sky and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played over the loudspeaker

Dozens of players in the Santa Barbara High baseball program lined up on the first-base line to honor Simon Chavez

Dozens of players in the Santa Barbara High baseball program lined up on the first-base line to honor Simon Chavez

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