The Saddleback baseball faithful couldn't have asked for much more on opening day of the Super Regional as ace pitcher Evan Manarino pitched a gem in beating College of the Canyons, 7-0, at Doug Fritz Field. The silky southpaw carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning before surrendering a hit in putting the Gauchos into the winner's bracket.
It was the second time this season that Manarino has tossed a one-hitter, but the steaks were much higher on Friday as Saddleback's win puts them into a good position heading into the weekend. The lone hit for Canyons came from Ivan Vela to lead off the ninth inning with the game well in hand as Manarino pitched to only two batters over the minimum on the day. Manarino, who struck out six batters, allowed just one walk in the sixth inning. That runner was erased by a double play that Manarino started on a ball batted back to the pitcher. No other Cougar would reach base until Vela's hit in the ninth as Manarino improved to 11-1 on the season.
Meanwhile, Saddleback took advantage of a number of Cougar miscues in building a 7-0 lead after six innings. Brandon Cody led the offensive surge with three hits in five at-bats as the Gauchos touched Canyons pitchers for 14 hits on the evening. Batters 2-7 in the lineup were a combined 12-for-25 as Josh Fuentes, Kyle Ferret, Mitchell Holland and Brian Romero all had two hits apiece.
The win puts Saddleback into a much-anticipated matchup against Mt. San Antonio College tomorrow in the winner's bracket at 2:00 PM. Mt. SAC won a nail-biter in the opening game with a 4-3 win in 10 innings over Cypress College.
Cypress will face Canyons in the elimination game at 10:00 AM.