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Holton does it again with 3-run HR and save in 11-9 comeback win

Phil Quartararo slides headfirst into third with a triple in the second inning. Two batters later, Mitch Sancier blasted a two-run homer to make it 2-2. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Phil Quartararo slides headfirst into third with a triple in the second inning. Two batters later, Mitch Sancier blasted a two-run homer to make it 2-2. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

SBCC's Jake Holton is getting used to wearing the hero's cape. For the second time in four days, the sophomore from Los Gatos belted a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth and then pitched the ninth for a record-setting save in an 11-9 baseball win over Cuesta.

"We've been battling back all year and it was no different today," said Holton, who had a solo homer and the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth on Saturday, then got the save in a 2-1 win at Hancock. "In my previous three at-bats, they were pounding me with curveballs down and I was struggling. I knew they were going to come with that early and I was able to lay off and get an advantage count.

"I knew I would get a fastball. The dugout really helped with their calls and I was able to drive it."

The Vaqueros (16-16, 7-5) remained in first in the WSC North, tied with Moorpark. Hancock is a half-game back at 7-6 and Ventura is a game back (6-6).

Designated hitter Mitch Sancier had a big day, going 2-3 with a two-run homer in the second and three runs scored.

The Vaqueros led 5-2 after four innings, got tied at 5, then scored two in the sixth to take a 7-5 lead. Nick Prainito singled and Sancier doubled to right on a controversial hit that some claimed went over the fence. Both runners scored on Ryan Guardino's third hit of the game.

Cuesta (17-14, 6-7) tied it at 7 with two unearned runs in the seventh and took a 9-7 lead on Chandler Hughes' RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Mason Grotto in the eighth.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Guardino reached on a chopper behind the mound and went to second when Patrick Caulfield was hit by a pitch. After a double steal, Guardino scored on a groundout by Reinhard Lautz for the second out. Second baseman Andrew Navigato relieved Jed Moscot on the mound and he hit John Jensen with the first pitch. Holton followed with his towering team-leading sixth homer over the 365-foot sign in right center to give the Vaqueros an 11-9 lead.

Holton, who won the SBART Athlete of the Week award on Monday, broke Vinnie Agapito's 11-year-old school record with his ninth save.

"I didn't know if I was going to pitch the ninth, then coach asked if I was good to go," said Holton. "I was honestly exhausted. Then I got some water and I felt better and I was like, 'Of course.' "

After getting a flyout, Holton gave up a single to Nik Pagan, then got the second out on a pop to first base. Alec Smith singled to the hole at shortstop and then Holton got Garrett Brown to hit into a fielder's choice and third baseman Jensen got a forceout at second.

Holton leads the state with nine saves and lowered his ERA to 2.93.

Brett Vansant pitched a solid 5.2 innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. Joe Kinsky (1-0) got the win, allowing two runs on two hits in 1.1 innings.

There's always lots of runs scored when Cuesta and Santa Barbara get together. SBCC won the first meeting 14-11 and the Cougars took the second game, 16-5, at Pershing Park. They combined for 20 runs on Tuesday, giving them 66 in three games (22.0 average).

"It certainly wasn't a defensive struggle," joked SBCC coach Jeff Walker. "We did a good job of punching back after falling behind 2-0. We were having a drought with extra-base hits but we took care of that today."

The Vaqueros had 11 hits and five went for extra bases – two doubles, a triple by Phil Quartararo and the homers by Sancier and Holton.

"I'm sure Jake wasn't 100 percent after pitching on Saturday but he just set the school record for saves," noted Walker. "What are we going to do … not put him in? His stuff is that good, he doesn't have to be 100 percent to get through the ninth."

The Vaqueros will play three straight days, starting Thursday at Cuesta at 2:30 p.m. They travel to Ventura on Friday, then host Oxnard on Saturday at 1 p.m.