The Saddleback baseball team had five different players recognized by the Orange Empire Conference at the annual post-season meeting earlier in the week. Four were named to the first team with another earning a Gold Glove award.
Saddleback opens the playoffs this Friday at Long Beach City College and learned on Monday that they will have a number of high-profile athletes on the bus. Chase Lyford, Brett Auerbach, Bradley Spooner and Tyler Clark were all named to the Orange Empire Conference First Team while Erik Voller won a Gold Glove for his work behind the plate.
Lyford (pictured) finished the regular season 6-4 overall with a 3.42 ERA. He led the team in innings pitched (81.2) while tying for the team lead in strikeouts (44). Lyford had a number of great performances during the course of the year, including a six inning performance against Santa Barbara early in the season where he allowed just one hit while striking out six.
Auerbach was a force down the stretch for the Gauchos on offense, leading the team in hits (50), doubles (14), stolen bases (9), RBI's (24), bases-on-balls (20) and runs-scored (30) while finishing second in triples (3), slugging percentage (.483) and batting average (.331). Auerbach was one of only three players to play in all 40 games and saved his best for last when he came within an eyelash of hitting for the cycle in the final game of the regular season.
Clark was one of the veteran leaders of a young squad all season and a pillar of consistency. He led the team in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.492), on-base percentage (.428) and triples (4) while finishing second in RBI's (20) and hits (44). Clark's biggest performance of the year may have been a 4-for-4 day against San Diego Mesa College on January 31, and he had two, seven-game hitting streaks during the course of the season.
Spooner splashed on to the scene as an elite closer out of the bullpen and ended up setting the single-season record with eight saves. He finished the regular season with a 2.15 ERA, striking out 26 batters in 29.1 innings of work. Spooner's best performance of the year was on opening day when he came on for one inning and struck out the side.
In addition to the first team selections, Voller was selected as the top defensive catcher in the conference and received the Gold Glove for his position. He threw out 28.9% of the runners that attempted to steal during the season and had just five passed balls in 36 games. At the plate, Voller led the Gauchos with three home runs during the regular season.
Saddleback will open the playoffs at Long Beach City College on Friday in a best-of-three series with the Vikings. The first pitch on Friday is scheduled for 2:00 PM.