The Saddleback baseball team picked up a critical win on Tuesday with a 5-4 victory over Santa Ana College at Doug Fritz Field. With the win, the Gauchos are now in a tie for fourth place in conference play.
Saddleback had a tough finish to last week when they dropped the final two games of a series with Irvine Valley and fell into a three-way tie for fifth place in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos bounced back on Tuesday, beating a Santa Ana team that started the day in front of Saddleback in the standings. With the win, the Gauchos are now in a three-way tie for fourth place and could move within a game of third depending on what happens to Golden West.
Saddleback fell behind 4-2 in the top of the fourth inning when the Dons scored three runs to grab the momentum. The Gauchos bounced right back, scoring two of their own to even the score at 4-4. Brett O'Toole opened the inning with an infield single to get Saddleback off on the right foot. Zack Bowman followed with a single to center field and the Gauchos has men at first and second base with no outs. A sacrifice grounder moved both base-runners up one base before Jerry Carrillo flew out to shallow left field as Saddleback looked as if they may squander the situation. Andrew Wilson took off the pressure with a single to right field, scoring both O'Toole and Bowman to tie the game.
The score remained even until the eighth inning when O'Toole again led off the bottom of the inning with a single for his third hit of the game. Saddleback quickly got some speed off the bench with Ulumano Farm, who came in to pinch run. His speed paid off as the pitcher threw a ball away, allowing Farm to advance all the way to third base. After a pitching change, Bowman then hit a ball deep enough to center field to score Farm on a sacrifice fly and give the Gauchos a 5-4 lead.
Saddleback then had to protect the lead in the top of the ninth inning and after Nathen Flores singled with one out in the inning they went to closer Bradley Spooner to try and close the door. Spooner (pictured) quickly got a strike-em-out, throw-em-out when he struck out Bryan Leef and Flores was thrown out at second base, attempting to steal. It was Spooner's seventh save of the year, tying him for the program record for a season.
Saddleback is now 18-11 overall and 6-7 in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos will resume the three-game set with the Dons in Santa Ana on Thursday. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM.