PBB: Gowdy steps up for Dons, fires 1-hitter against DP

In a first-place showdown against crosstown rival Dos Pueblos, Santa Barbara High ace Kevin Gowdy was at the top of his game and delivered a brilliant performance.

The junior right-hander struck out 11 and fired a one-hitter, leading the Dons to a 3-0 victory on Tuesday at Eddie Mathews Field. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Chargers and puts Santa Barbara alone in first place in the Channel League at 5-2. Dos Pueblos falls to 4-3. The teams meet again on Friday at Scott O’Leary Field.

Ahead 1-0, Gowdy gave up a lead-off double to Gio Macias in the sixth inning. The next batter, Dustin Demeter, ripped a liner off him but it was right at second baseman Carter Soto. Luke Coffey fouled out down the right-field and Macias tagged up and went to third. Still strong and confident, Gowdy struck out Nick Noggle to keep his shutout intact.

“Today, he’s the pitcher that everyone says he was going to be and we all knew he could be,” said Dons coach Fred Warrecker of Gowdy. “He’s stepped up two-thirds a way through the season. It was an outstanding, dominating performance in a first-place game.”

DP coach Nick Katzenstein was impressed

“Kevin Gowdy threw excellent,” he said. “We had them on the ropes a couple of times but just couldn’t cash in with runners in scoring position.”

Gowdy said the sixth inning was all about staying confident.

“You have to be confident with your pitches,” he said. “(The pitch to Demeter) was supposed to be a letter-high fastball to see if he’d chase it but I left it waist high and he hit it well.”

On the play by Soto: “It was just a game changer, just catching that. If that ball is in the gap and all of a sudden they score a run, it’s a whole different game,” said the UCLA commit.

Being it was playing DP and for first place, Gowdy said he “definitely felt something extra going into the game. But I just tried to go out there and simplify the game as much as I can.”

He walked three, threw more than 100 pitches — his highest pitch count of the season — and was strong to the end. He ended the game with two strikeouts.

“I felt like I still had some velocity in the last innings,” he said.

“It’s a good win for us in every way,” said Warrecker. “Our defense was solid. We just don’t make a mistake there, and hang on by our fingernails on offense.”

DP starter Travis Craven, a crafty left-hander, held the Dons scoreless for three innings. In the fourth, John Jensen drew a lead-off walk and advanced to third on a couple of wild pitches. Soto hit a dunker over the second baseman to the edge of the right-field grass. A charging Jonathan Sloan almost made a shoestring catch, but the ball hit the ground and Jensen scored the run.

The Dons threatened to break the game open in the inning, as Trevor Moropoulos singled to center and Dalton Schroeder reached base on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. But third baseman Luke Coffey came up huge for DP. He fielded a grounder by Joey Arroyo, tagged Soto leaving third and fired across to Jessie Speier at first base to complete a double play.

“That’s a heads-up baseball play,” Katzenstein said. “Luke is savvy like that. He continues to impress and make plays that are great plays for high-school level baseball.”

Coffey made spectacular play to end the inning, charging and bare-handing a bouncer by Christian Loza and throwing him out.

“Great defensive plays kept us in the game until the end,” said Katzenstein.

After hitting into a double play against DP’s Michael Boelter, the Dons capitalized on a fielding miscue in the sixth to score two runs. Moropoulos reached base on an outfield error and Schroeder followed with a walk. Arroyo stepped up and ripped a shot into the right-center field gap to clear the bases.

“He’s been clutch all year,” said Gowdy of Arroyo. “He’s kind of a quiet kid; he’ll just come up and be clutch at times. He knows how to be clutch when he needs to and helps our team.”

Dos Pueblos…000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Santa Barbara…000 102 x — 3 7 0

Craven, Boelter (5) and N. Noggle; Gowdy and Keithly. W—Gowdy. L—Cravens. 2B—SB: Arroyo, Morison. DP: Macias. Records—SB 13-7, 5-2 CL; DP 11-12, 4-3 CL