PBB: Dons get big win in walk-off style

Santa Barbara High celebrates its walk-off victory over Buena. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Santa Barbara High celebrates its walk-off victory over Buena. (Presidio Sports Photos)


It’s been an exciting season of Channel League baseball and Tuesday’s pivotal matchup between Buena and Santa Barbara High continued the craziness.

Santa Barbara took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning but Buena didn’t go quietly in the high-stakes game, forcing extra innings with three runs. The host Dons finally overcame in the bottom of the ninth inning when Joseph Arroyo’s bloop single down the right-field line scored Daniel McKinney to give Santa Barbara a walk-off 4-3 victory.

The game-winning hit set off a victory on the infield dirt between first and second base. Arroyo had been 0 for 3 before delivering for the Dons in the clutch.

“I was struggling all day at the plate and I knew he was going to bring me a curveball so I just sat back and tried to take it to right field,” Arroyo said.

Santa Barbara High head coach Fred Warrecker was relieved his team kept their titles hopes alive.

“It was such a must-win for us,” Warrecker said. “If we want to tie for the league championship, we had to win both games. And if we didn’t win this game, it was going to be such a let down and I was starting to think already in my mind, Freddy, what do you say after the game to try and disguise it or make the best of it.”

Buena was in a similar mindset as Santa Barbara, coming into the game with a league championship still within reach. Both teams entered the game needing to win the final two games of the regular season in order to share the championship with Dos Pueblos. Now, with Thursday’s game moved to Wednesday because of forecasted rain, the Dons can clinch the title with a win tomorrow at Buena.

Over half of Santa Barbara’s league games have been decided by one run this season. Four have ended in walk-offs.

The game nearly ended in the seventh inning without the dramatics. Dons ace Kevin Gowdy started the game with six shutout innings on just 61 pitches. In the seventh, with runners on 1st and 3rd, Gowdy allowed a two-out RBI single to Bryce Russell. After a wild pitch moved Russell to second base, a groundball to shortstop was underthrown and the error allowed Derek Burns and Russell to score.

Gowdy was then relieved by Dalton Schroeder, who came in from center field without a bullpen session and earned the victory for pitching the final 2 1/3 innings.

“Talk about ice water in your veins,” Warrecker said about Schroeder. “To come in and the score is tied and you make one bad pitch and you lost the game. To come in and do the job he did was really… I told him it was a senior moment for him.”

Schroeder hit the first batter he faced, loading the bases for Buena, but then induced a sharp ground ball to third base where John Jensen gloved the ball and made the throw to first.

Gowdy, a junior UCLA commit, finished with 6 2/3 innings pitched, one earned run and four strikeouts.

Buena's Jonah Rocha lasted 8 1/3 innings and threw 134 pitches.

Buena’s Jonah Rocha lasted 8+ innings and threw 134 pitches.

Jonah Rocha was Buena’s backbone in the game. The senior made 134 pitches and lasted into the ninth inning.

“I felt good. My coach was calling a great game. My team was playing pretty good defense behind me. We just didn’t get timely hits. Thank god that we got them in the seventh inning or else we wouldn’t be in the game.”

He said he expected his arm to feel sore tomorrow but that as a senior he wanted to leave it all on the field.

“It was worth it even if we got the loss. It was good to know what could have been my last outing was a good one,” Rocha said.

The Dons won the game in the ninth starting with a leadoff single by McKinney. A sacrifice bunt by Cristian Loza was misplayed by the Bulldogs, allowing Santa Barbara to have runners on first and second with nobody out. An untimely balk put both Dons in scoring position with Arroyo at the plate.

Trevor Moropoulos was 2 for 3 with a walk for Santa Barbara and scored the Dons’ first three runs. Both his hits were doubles. Loza had an RBI chopper in the second inning and another RBI groundout in the sixth. Moropoulos’ second run was scored on a Buena throwing error in the fourth inning.

On Wednesday the Dons plan to start Moropoulos against Buena ace Austin Rubick in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

Buena 000 000 300 – 3 9 2
Santa Barbara 010 101 001 – 4 8 2

2b – SB 2 (Moropoulos).

WP – Schroeder. LP – Rocha