Erick Elizalde punctuated a bounce-back baseball game for Santa Barbara High on Wednesday with a home run that he bounced onto Cathedral Oaks Road.
The senior slugger scored all five times he came to bat, adding a triple and three walks to the Dons’ offense in their 14-3 victory at Dos Pueblos’ Scott O’Leary Field.
“We wanted to bounce back today and get the series win against DP — it’s a big two weeks for us,” Elizalde said. “We had to really lock in at practice yesterday and focus on our craft.”
Santa Barbara (12-4, 9-1 Channel League) had a nine-game winning streak snapped in Friday’s 6-0 loss at San Marcos, bringing the Royals to within a game of the first-place Dons. A five-game winning streak had also brought Dos Pueblos (12-7, 7-3) into the pennant race.
“These guys could’ve gone one of two ways, and they’re really good about blowing it off, getting rid of it, and moving on to DP,” Santa Barbara coach Steve Schuck said. “We’ve had two great practices. Yesterday was amazing. They were so locked in.
“We went for an hour and 15 minutes and I just banged it and said, ‘That’s it … We can’t do any more, we’re ready to go.’”
Elizalde couldn’t do much more on Wednesday. He ended his big day at the plate by pitching two scoreless innings in relief of winning pitcher Juan Perez.
“I like going in and closing the door,” he said. “Juan always keeps the game close for me, so he makes the job a lot easier.”
The five runs that Elizalde scored was more than enough for the win.
“I think Friday was the first game that he’s gone 0-fer, or maybe his second,” Schuck said. “He doesn’t stay down long. He’s just so clutch in that three-hole.”
DP got a Jekyll and Hyde performance from its young pitching staff. Kellan Montgomery struck out the first two Dons he faced before walking Elizalde. Oliver McGibben followed with a booming, RBI triple down the right-field line.
The Chargers’ four pitchers struck out 13 batters and walked 13.
“It was a really weird game for us,” DP coach George Hedricks said. “I thought we had a good plan against their lefty. He’s been good all year, and we knew he was going to throw strikes and be crafty. I thought we found a way to mark on him and got runners on.
“Unfortunately, defensively and on the mound, we just didn’t do enough to get a stop.”
The Chargers trailed just 3-2 after three innings. They got back-to-back triples by Dylon Bailey and Greg Marmo in the second, and then a run-scoring fly by Montgomery in the third.
“We had to really break it open to push them down because they’re a team that battles really hard,” Elizalde said. “They’re really good at that.”
Bailey went 2-for-2 while DP teammate Jackson Greaney was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
“He’s come up big the last month and a half,” Hedricks said of Greaney, the lone senior to start for DP on Wednesday. “He’s at the top of the league in doubles — he’s a big leader for us and one of our captains.
“It’s really great to see him have that, especially after not having a season last year.”
But Santa Barbara’s defense was as proactive as it was errorless. It snuffed a pair of DP rallies on pickoff throws by Perez and catcher Vince Gamberdella.
“It was little things like that, shooting ourselves in the foot — two steps forward and three steps back,” Hedricks said. “That’s just the kind of day it was for us.”
Perez, who has battled a bad back all year, earned his fifth win in as many decisions by scattering six hits and two walks with one strikeout.
“We’ve got a massage gun — we carry it with us in case he stiffens up a little bit,” Schuck said. “But he’s a warrior. And then Erick comes in and he’s nails.”
McGibben, who had a single to go with his double, drove in three runs and scored two others. Gamberdella also had three RBIs while going 2-for-4.
Ty Montgomery went 2-for-5 with an RBI. He also ended the game with a dazzling, back-handed stab at third base to throw out DP’s final batter.
“It was the whole thing,” Schuck said of the Dons’ all-around performance. “It’s come together. It’s just where we hoped we’d be at this time of the year.”