PBB: Dons do little things to win big game over Buena, 2-1

Fred Warrecker couldn’t help himself after watching his team pull out a dramatic 2-1 baseball win over Buena in the bottom of the seventh Tuesday at Eddie Mathews Field.

“I know it sounds corny, but we played our hearts out against a good team,” said a smiling Santa Barbara High coach.

The Dons won it when Skyler Sabado broke up a double play at second base, allowing Bryce Morison to come home for the winning run.

The victory boosted the Dons to 10-4 on the season and 2-1 in Channel League. Buena, which was ranked in the L.A. Times’ Southland Top 25 this week, fell to 10-3 and 3-1.

“That’s such a good win for us,” Warrecker said. “They have been murdering teams and they come in and get four hits and one of them was an infield dribbler. So our pitching and our defense … that’s all I can say. It’s saved us all year. “

With the score tied at 1-1 in the seventh, Morison drew a walk against Buena ace Austin Rubick, who came into the game with a sterling 0.59 ERA and allowed only 10 hits and two runs in 23.2 innings. Sabado hit a grounder to the third baseman who chose to get the force out at second. The ball was dropped and Morison was ruled safe. Buena coach Mark Magdaleno argued with the umpires, but the call stood.

Magdaleno made a pitching change, bringing in Sawyer Hamilton. Hamilton got Gabe Grandcolas to hit a perfect-double-play ball to second base. But Sabado foiled the Bulldogs’ plans to turn two and get out of the inning.

“I was saying to Skyler, ‘You got to break up two; you got to go straight in so the umpire doesn’t say it’s interference,’” said Warrecker. “Sure enough, he went in and exploded on second base, so the throw was wild.”

The return throw to first base was low and skipped past the first baseman, allowing Morison to come all the way around to score and end the game. The jubilant Dons exploded out of the dugout and dog-piled on Morison.

“They made two errors but the errors are from (our) hustle,” Warrecker said. “That’s the part I think we’re good at. We really run and do stuff. It’s really huge for us.”

It wasn’t just the baserunning that was key for the Dons. Starter Kevin Gowdy pitched a solid five innings against Buena’s Rubick. The sophomore allowed one run on three hits, walked four and struck out two.

Said Warrecker: “Gowdy wasn’t his special self; he was a sophomore going against a top-25 team. Saying all that, he gave up thee hits in four innings and gave up one run. “

Grandcolas gave up a hit to the first batter he faced and then was unhittable.

“The Jamie Moyer Special,” said Warrecker, referring to the longtime major-league pitcher who was a master at the off-speed pitch. (Grandcolas) changes speed so well. For us to hold them… They came in hitting .355 and we came in hitting .217 as a team. We had to hold them. That was the whole idea.”

Buena took a 1-0 lead in the third on a RBI single by Tony Fanzo. The Bulldogs were robbed of another run on a brilliant defensive play by second baseman Tim Stickles. He drove for a hard-hit ball behind second base and flipped to shortstop Morrison for the final out of the inning.

Other big defensive plays included center fielder Ian True making a diving catch, a backhanded stop by Stickles for a putout and Sabado running out and picking off a runner, who was bluffing a steal to second. Buena ended up stranding a runner at third base.

Santa Barbara tied the score in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded squeeze bunt by Stickles. Daniel McKinney scored from third, barely beating the throw to the plate.

The Dons play at San Marcos on Friday.

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