Ty Montgomery wasn’t thrilled when he didn’t get to start Santa Barbara High’s baseball game against Santa Ynez on Wednesday. He was ecstatic, however, when finished it.
Montgomery’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of sixth inning scored Jordan Harris with the winning run to cap the Dons’ 3-2, comeback victory over the Pirates at Eddie Mathews Field.
“I wasn’t happy at the start of the game but I’m here for my team,” Montgomery said. “It’s a team game.”
The win keeps Santa Barbara (13-5, 10-2 Channel League) in a tie with San Marcos (16-3, 10-2) atop the conference standings. The Dons, ranked fourth in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, were coming off a 3-1 loss on Friday to third-place Dos Pueblos (14-6, 9-3).
“Now they’re right behind us,” Montgomery said of the 9-3 Chargers, “but it does add a little bit more to these games.”
Santa Ynez (7-11, 4-8) got a complete-game, six-hit pitching effort from junior Jackson Cloud. The Pirates stranded nine runners, however, which included four that had reached scoring position.
Dons coach Steve Schuck chalked it up to another clutch pitching performance by junior lefthander Juan Perez. He scattered eight hits, ending three of his five innings with a strikeout. He whiffed eight Pirates altogether before leaving with the game tied at 2-all.
“I don’t want to take it for granted, but he does it a lot,” Schuck said. “I don’t want us to get used to it but when the pressure comes on, Juan kind of shines. He just wills himself. Sometimes that’s all you need.”
Senior Erick Elizalde got the pitching win with two innings of one-hit relief, striking out three Pirates.
“He’s confident,” Schuck said. “He’s ready to go and wants the ball.”
Santa Ynez’s two-run second inning could’ve been bigger if Dons’ left fielder Jack Holland hadn’t robbed leadoff hitter Caleb Cassidy with a diving catch in left-center. One out later, Tanner Padfield lined a single to left, took second on an infield single by Seth Ruiz and scored on a single to right by Victor Heredia.
Ruiz followed him home on Shane Stewart’s infield single. Stewart went 2-for-3, while Mikey Gills and Owen Hunt both went 2-for-4.
The Dons finally scored in the fourth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Holland led off with a walk, stole second base, took third on Harris’ ground out and raced home on Sam Russell’s infield single up the middle.
Santa Barbara connected more solidly in the fifth, beginning with Dawson’s line single to right. Dawson, who went 2-for-4 in the game, had to hold up at second base on Vince Gamberdella’s booming single that sailed just over the head of Santa Ynez center fielder Adam Stephens. He made it home, however, on another long single to the centerfield fence by Elizalde.
Cloud pitched out of the jam by getting the next three outs on a grounder and two strikeouts, keeping the score knotted at 2-all.
The Dons thought they had taken the lead with Harris’ first swing of the sixth. His drive down the left-field line sailed high over the fence but was ruled a foul ball. Schuck argued that the ball had gone directly over the foul pole.
“It is what it is, but that’s a major, major call to blow in a tight game like that with so much on the line,” he said.
It became a moot point, however, after Harris walked, took second on Russell’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Montgomery lined his game-winning single to center.
“He was ready, and that’s what we need,” Schuck said. “That comes from being on the bench and watching the game and Ty did it. Ty stayed plugged in and was huge.”
Montgomery admitted that he was chomping at the bit and not about to wait for one of Cloud’s wicked, late-count curveballs. He smashed the first pitch he saw into center.
“It was a fastball,” he said, “and I’ve got to hit it.”
The two teams will play again on Friday at Santa Ynez.
“It’s a big series,” Schuck said. “They’re all big. Now Friday’s huge.
“We’ve lost our little cushion, so to speak, but everything is still in our hands. We’ve just got to go take care of it on Friday.”