BB: Savage sparks DP to comeback win over Dons

They call him “Big Game” James.

James Savage came up big for the Dos Pueblos baseball team on Friday in a Channel League clash against rival Santa Barbara. Savage made the Dons pay for an infield throwing error by rapping a single up the middle to drive in Dylan Rohde for the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

The Chargers followed with two more runs on two hits and a sacrifice fly, and Erik Olson turned in a solid relief performance in a 5-2 come-from-behind win over Santa Barbara on Friday at Scott O’Leary Field.

“Big Game James, he’ll come through in the clutch for you,” said Dos Pueblos coach Nick Katzenstein of Savage.

Savage came into the game after producing several hits for the Chargers at the Anaheim Lions and San Luis Obispo Tournaments during Spring Break.

“James has been on fire lately,” Katzenstein said. “That was a big basehit he had up the middle there that we scored on.”

Savage credited his hitting success to keeping his eyes off the stat sheet.

“I stopped keeping track of my stats,” he said. “After you do that, everything becomes a lot easier. “I stopped counting and started to notice my hitting picked up.”

Dos Pueblos fell behind early in the game as Santa Barbara got to ace lefty Gabe Speier for single runs in the second and third innings. In the second inning, Jeff Paschke and Michael Day hit back-to-back singles and Zach Torres blooped a single over shortstop to load the bases with two outs. Skyler Sabado drew a walk to bring home Paschke and give the Dons a 1-0 lead.

The Dons made it 2-0 in the third when John Brontsema doubled to right-center field and scored on a triple to center by Paschke.

But Paschke was left stranded at third as Speier struck out the next two batters. He finished with eight strikeouts in five innings of work.

Paschke started on the mound for the Dons and didn’t allow a hit for three innings. Dustin Demeter broke up the no-hitter with a one-out double in the fourth. Speier followed with a ground-ball single under a diving Santa Barbara second baseman Toby Minehan to score Demeter for the Chargers’ first run.

DP tied the score in the fifth. Anthony Spiritosanto drew a lead-off walk, went to second on sacrifice by Luke Coffey and moved to third on a flyout to center by Drake Gilliland. Spiritosanto scored on Brian Cho’s single.

Paschke walked Ben York before he was replaced by Connor McManigal, who got the final out on a groundball to shortstop

Santa Barbara threatened in the sixth against Olson, but the DP reliever pitched out of a situation with runners at third and first and one out.

“Great basketball player, good baseball player,” Katzenstein said of Olson. “We’re happy to have him. He’s shown some stuff lately that’s solidifying a spot in a game for us on the mound. In the Anaheim Lions Tournament, he showed some stuff that gave him the chance in this tight game to get out there.”

The Chargers took advantage of Santa Barbara’s error to win the game in the bottom of the sixth.

After Savage’s RBI hit, Spiritosanto singled and Coffey belted a run-scoring double to the fence in left. Gilliland followed with a sacrifice fly to right to score Spiritosanto for the final run.

“They rallied when they needed to, and we didn’t get the clutch hits today,” said Santa Barbara coach Fred Warrecker.

The game also included good defensive plays on both sides. Brontsema robbed York of a bloop hit by running into short left-center field to make a catch in the fourth inning. Dons second baseman Toby Minehan made a running catch of Cho’s dunker in short right field in the third.

For DP, York was flawless on five plays at shortstop and Speier made a nice play fielding a Minehan sacrifice and gunning out the runner at second base in the fifth.

The Chargers improve to 11-8 on the season and 2-1 in Channel League. Santa Barbara is 9-5, 2-2.

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