The Saddleback baseball team opened up the playoffs with a 7-2 win over Bakersfield College on Friday at Doug Fritz Field. Evan Manarino went the distance in giving the Gauchos a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Manarino was once again very good, pitching 7.2 innings in improving to 10-1 on the season. The crafty lefty carried a 7-0 lead into the 7th inning before giving up a solo home run in the seventh and a run in the eighth. Trey Ferketic pitched the final 1.1 innings on a 95-degree day in Mission Viejo.
Saddleback took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Noah Graham doubled down the left field line to score Jeff Butler. The Gauchos then took advantage of a Bakersfield error in scoring three runs in the second inning. The big blow was a Josh Fuentes double down the right field line that scored two unearned runs to give Saddleback a 4-0 lead.
The Gauchos once again capitalized on sloppy defense by the Renegades in the fifth inning in taking a commanding 7-0 lead. With one on and two out, Mitchell Holland reached on a throwing error by Bakersfield third baseman Nick Sakowski, scoring Graham. Brian Romero then doubled to left field to score one more before Slate Miller singled home Romero for the third unearned run of the inning. In total, six of the seven Gaucho runs were unearned for the day as Renegade starter Justin Kelly was pinned with the loss.
Saddleback (26-11) pounded out 11 hits on the day, as Butler, Graham, Romero and Miller all had two hits apiece. The Renegades (24-13) managed eight hits on the afternoon.
Saddleback and Bakersfield will meet again on Saturday in game two of the series. The first pitch is scheduled for 11:00 am with the game being broadcast via web audio streaming at Saddleback's own KSBR Radio. A game three would follow, if necessary.