The Saddleback baseball team closed out the regular season with a 10-1 win against inter-district rival Irvine Valley College on Friday at Doug Fritz Field. The sophomores came up big as the Gauchos closed the regular season with a sweep of the Lasers.
Saddleback finished out the regular season with a bang. The Gauchos wore out the Lasers for a third straight game, beating them at every facet of the game. The only question that remains is whether or not winning six of the last seven games of the season will be enough to qualify for the Southern California Regional Playoffs, which will be announced on Sunday.
Saddleback opened the scoring in the third inning when Riley Kasper (Capistrano Valley HS) singled home Demitri Colacchio (Aliso Niguel HS) for a 1-0 lead. It was 1-of-3 hits on the afternoon for Kasper, who finished the regular season with a team-high .382 batting average. Colacchio finished right on Kasper's heels, batting .379 for the year.
Saddleback and Irvine Valley were tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning when the Gauchos scored three runs for a 4-1 lead. Willie Lajoie (Beckman HS) drove home Chris Demgen with the go-ahead run on a single to center field. It was 1-of-4 hits for Lajoie, who finished with a team-high 37 RBI's for the regular season.
Saddleback scored a solo run in the seventh inning on a single from Demgen to score Kasper. The sophomore from Cathedral Catholic in San Diego finished the regular season with a team-high of three home runs.
Saddleback then opened up a big lead in the bottom half of the eighth inning with five more runs. The Gauchos forced three pitching changes in the inning and had three hits, two hit batsman and a walk in the inning. Lajoie capped off the scoring when he drove home Reed Beverly with a doble to left-center field for a 10-1 lead.
Saddleback started Hunter Ash on the mound just three days after Ash closed the door on Irvine Valley in a 15-inning affair on Monday. Ash was solid, pitching six innings of four-hit ball while striking out five in the process. Ash then turned the ball over to Jacob Frankel, who struck out three of the four batters he faced while pitching into the eighth inning. The Gauchos then turned the ball over to sophomore Zak Herbers (Capistrano Valley HS), who was making his first appearance since March 12. Herbers then pitched the final 1.2 innings of work as the Gauchos rolled to a comfortable win.
Saddleback finishes the regular season 21-18 overall and 9-12 in Orange Empire Conference play. Irvine Valley College finished the season at 21-19-1 overall and 5-16 in OEC play.
The Southern California Regional Playoff seeds are scheduled to be announced on Sunday. Saddleback seemed a longshot heading into the week for a playoff spot, but with a sweep of Irvine Valley have made things interesting for the selection committee. Tune in to @SCGauchos on Twitter for any playoff announcement.