PBB: Royals can’t crack Dons’ bullpen

Santa Barbara Trevor Moropoulos slides across home plate for the Dons' third run. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Santa Barbara Trevor Moropoulos slides across home plate for the Dons’ third run. (Presidio Sports Photos)

 

San Marcos did what it wanted to on Tuesday against Santa Barbara High ace Kevin Gowdy, chasing the talented right-hander after four innings. What the Royals couldn’t do was take advantage of opportunities in a 3-2 loss to the Dons in a Channel League game.

The Dons were buoyed by three scoreless innings of relief by Marcus Tmur and Dalton Schroeder. San Marcos loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh against Schroeder but came up empty. The Royals came darn close when Derek Zylstra ripped a line drive down the left-field line that landed a few feet foul.

The Royals ended innings with runners in scoring position almost every inning and left 10 men on base in total. Dons head coach Fred Warrecker was feeling the heat.

“Boy these games are close,” Warrecker said. “How often did they get a runner at second base with nobody out, like twice or three times?”

Santa Barbara High's Kevin Gowdy earned the victory on Tuesday and struck out nine.

Santa Barbara’s Kevin Gowdy earned the victory on Tuesday and struck out nine.

Each time the Dons pitchers limited the damage. Schroeder, who has worked his way into the closer’s role this season, enjoys the high-leverage situations.

“The game’s on you, everybody’s looking at you. Then when you come through, there’s no feeling better than that,” Schroeder said.

Santa Barbara had its own problems cashing in runs, leaving seven men on base. Trevor Moropoulos, who scored the winning run on an RBI single by Schroeder, led the Dons at the plate with two hits and a run scored. Gowdy and Joseph Arroyo also had multi-hit days for the Dons.

Gowdy had an interesting day. The junior, good enough to be an early commit to UCLA, struck out nine batters in four innings but was wilder than usual. A wild pitch on strike three of the potential third out in the first inning allowed San Marcos to stay alive and score a run. Another wild pitch in the fourth inning allowed San Marcos’ second run to score.

Gowdy got into more trouble in the third inning. Sean Nakano-West singled with one out and Blake Katsev moved him to third base with one out on a hit-and-run single. Gowdy escaped the jam with two straight punchouts.

Gowdy came out of the game after reaching a pitch limit in four innings.

“You just have to embrace the pressure I guess and just work through it,” Gowdy said. “Just throw strikes and be aggressive.”

San Marcos has been playing better despite a 1-4 league record. After being outscored 10-3 in their first two losses, the Royals have scored more runs than they’ve given up in their last three league games.

San Marcos' Kyle Gonzalez throws from his knees for an out at third base after a diving stop.

San Marcos’ Kyle Gonzalez throws from his knees for an out at third base after a diving stop.

Blake Katsev led San Marcos at the plate with a 3 for 3 performance, including a long ground-rule double to left-center field that nearly cleared the fence and tied the game in the fifth inning.

“I thought we kept our composure throughout the whole game, even when we made some errors we kept our team up,” Katsev said. “We showed fight throughout the game too.”

Sophomore Ian Churchill started on the mound for the Royals and allowed one earned run in five innings. Austin Ricci pitched the final two innings and was aided by a tremendous defensive play by shortstop Kyle Gonzalez, who made a diving stop at the edge of the outfield and, throwing from his knees, made a key out at third base by erasing Joey Arroyo’s leadoff double.

Santa Barbara won the first matchup between the rivals in March 5-2. The final game of their three-game season series is Friday at Santa Barbara High.

LINESCORE:

Santa Barbara 201 000 0 – 3 10 0
San Marcos      100 100 0 – 2 8 1

WP – Gowdy LP – Churchill

2b – SM 3 (Katsev, Gonzalez, Nakano-West) SB 2 (Moropoulos, Arroyo)

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