The San Marcos baseball team needed a victory and TCU commit Chase Hoover answered the call with an electric complete game performance to lead the Royals to a 3-1 victory over Santa Barbara.
Hoover struck out 12 and limited the Dons to six hits to give San Marcos some breathing room atop the Channel League standings.
“I hadn’t gone a (complete game) in my high school career so it was special to get all seven,” Hoover said. “I got stronger as the game went on, got a better feel for my stuff and kept executing what Joaquin (Sandoval) was calling.”
The Royals set the tone early with two runs in the top of the first inning. Owen Estabrook laid down a bunt that brought home Sandoval and Emmett Speake delivered a single that drove in Brendon Cekada.
The Dons got one run back in the bottom of the second after a freshman Kai Mault led off the inning with a double and came around to score on a groundout by Wyatt Hastings. But that’s all Santa Barbara could muster at the plate despite some competitive at bats.
“We fell behind early on fastballs and you can’t fall behind Chase Hoover,” said Santa Barbara coach Steve Schuck. “He’s too good of a pitcher, he’s too crafty, he hits his spots and he’s got three pitches. I wouldn’t want to make a living hitting 0-2 against him.”
San Marcos scored a much-needed insurance run in the top of the fifth inning. Cekada led off the inning with a fly ball to shallow left field. Santa Barbara’s third baseman Mault and left fielder Jack Holland collided going for the ball and Cekada ended up on second base.
After Cekada stole third base Owen Estabrook brought him home with a sac fly increasing the San Marcos lead to 3-1.
“Runs were at a premium today. We tried to do everything we could to scratch a run,” said San Marcos coach Wesley Ghan Gibson. “That kid over there Juan Perez has had our number for years now and he did a great job. We were just trying to find a way to score anything. We knew that this game was going to be a scrappy dog fight.”
With a two-run lead Hoover locked in over the final two innings to secure the victory for San Marcos. The Royals improved to 9-2 in Channel League play and the Dons fell to 7-4.
“We haven’t gone seven innings with a starting pitcher many times this season and I think the way Chase is, he knew that he wanted to be that guy at that moment,” Ghan Gibson said. “I’m not taking the ball away from him. That guy is a bulldog.”