PBB: Grandcolas, defense stellar in Santa Barbara win

When left-hander Gabe Grandcolas is in a groove and the defense behind him is sharp, Santa Barbara High’s baseball team is tough to beat.

San Marcos discovered that on Friday at Joe Mueller Field, as Grandcolas and the Dons took a 4-1 decision in a Channel League game.

The Dons, 11-4 on the season, complete the first round of league play at 3-1. San Marcos fell to 5-12, 0-4.

Grandcolas had thrown just 61 pitches through six innings. He finished at 82, as the Royals put together their only threat in the last inning and avoided the shutout.

“He’s a rock out there. He was spectacular,” Santa Barbara coach Fred Warrecker said of Grandcolas.

Grandcolas (5-1), struck out four and allow four hits. After two of the hits, the senior got the next batter to hit into a double play. He picked off the runner at first base following the third hit.

If Grandcolas wasn’t tough enough on San Marcos hitters, the Santa Barbara defense kept the bases clean.

“I can’t say enough. It’s just defense; we played catch,” Warrecker said. “They hit the ball around. They didn’t strike out many times, but we made the plays and they didn’t. That was the name of the game.”

Davis Valles pitched well for San Marcos. He stuck out six and allowed just six hits in 6.1 innings.

“I felt like I pitched really well,” he said. “I kept our team in the game. Our offense didn’t come through. That was it.”

Santa Barbara broke a scoreless game in the fourth inning. With one out, Skyler Sabado reached first on an infield error, advanced to second on a walk to Grandcolas, reached third on dropped flyball in right field and came home on a wild pitch.

Sabado led off a two-run sixth inning with a single up the middle. After Grandcolas executed a sacrifice, John Jensen was hit by a pitch and Daniel McKinney ripped a ball to left field to score Sabado. The ball got away from the left fielder, allowing Jensen to come around and score for a 3-0 Santa Barbara lead.

“We finally put a few balls in play,” a pleased Warrecker said.

Dalton Schroeder singled to start the seventh, went to second on a Tim Stickles sacrifice and scored on Bryce Morrison’s single to left off San Marcos reliever Nathan Kim.

“We started making contact. It was much better; we just stayed after it,” Warrecker said of the hitting in the late innings. “Coach (George) Rempe really stays on it about the approach. I can’t exaggerate it — it’s like shoving the square peg into the round hole. But he stays on it, and the contact was much better.”

Derek Zylstra doubled to the fence in left field to drive in Wesley Ghan-Gibson for San Marcos’ run in the bottom of the seven.

While the Royals went winless in the first round of league play, they were in every game. They were coming off a 10-inning loss against Ventura.

Valles expects things to turn around soon.

“We’ll get there. It’s a matter of time,” he said. “We’re in the games. We just need to find what’s going to take us over the top. Once we find that, we’ll be good.”