The Saddleback baseball team improved to 5-1 on the season with a 4-1 win over Santa Barbara City College on Saturday afternoon at Doug Fritz Field. Conner Dand pitched five solid innings as the pitching staff held the Vaqueros in check.
Saddleback was coming off its first loss of the season after a crushing 5-4 loss on Friday night. The Gauchos responded by going about their business and rebounding to take the series, two games to one.
Saddleback took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Jo-Jo Quintanilla led off the inning with a single and later came around to score on a double to left-center field from Brett O'Toole. It was one of three times O'Toole would reach base as he also walked twice on the afternoon.
Santa Barbara tied the game in the top half of the fifth inning and Saddleback again responded. The Gauchos opened with a walk to Quintanilla, who then advanced to second on a balk by Santa Barbara pitcher Jayden Metz. A deep fly ball to left field from Riley Kasper put Quintanilla at third base with one out in the inning. Brett Auerbach then put the Gauchos ahead for good when he lined a pitch up the middle for a 2-1 lead.
Saddleback broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning when they tacked on two runs. With the Vaquero pitching staff running out of gas, Saddleback loaded the base with walks to O'Toole, Mike Jarvis and Chad Crosbie. Spencer Heinsius then gave Saddleback a three-run cushion when he delivered a one-out single to left field for a 4-1 advantage.
The three-run lead was all the Saddleback pitching staff would need as the Gaucho bullpen was up to the task. Dand left after five innings and gave way to the trio of Nick Hernandez, Connor Sealey and Alex Kent. The three Saddleback pitchers would surrender just two hits the rest of the way as Santa Barbara went down quietly. Kent came on to shut the door in the ninth for his second save of the season.
Saddleback (5-1) will open another three-game series this Thursday when Cuesta College comes to town. The Gauchos and Cougars will get things rolling at 6:00 PM on Thursday night.