The Saddleback baseball team improved to 6-1 on the season with a 10-6 win against Cuesta College on Thursday night at Doug Fritz Field. Saddleback President Dr. Gregory Anderson threw out the first pitch on a night when the employees and fans celebrated the grand re-opening of the stadium.
Saddleback received a pregame speech and ceremonial first pitch from the president of the college, while staff members and fans were treated to hot dogs and hamburgers. The Gauchos did the rest from there, serving up a big helping of humble pie for their opponents.
Saddleback had a 10-0 lead through seven innings, thanks to some miscues by Cuesta in the field and timely hitting. They also received another tremendous pitching performance from starter Tanner Brubaker, who improved to 3-0 on the season.
The Gauchos scored three times in the first inning to send a quick message. Brett Auerbach drove in Riley Kasper with the opening run of the game and quickly stole second base to get himself into scoring position. Cuesta then committed a costly error as Auerbach would eventually come around to score on a fielder's choice before Mike Jarvis would single home Brett O'Toole for a 3-0 lead.
Saddlback took advantage of another error and spotty pitching in the third inning and turned it into three more unearned runs. With one out in the inning, Auerbach reached first base on a pop-up to the first baseman, who seemed to lose the ball in the lights as Auerbach kept running in advancing to second base. O'Toole was then hit by a pitch and Willie Lajoie followed with a single to load the bases with one out in the inning. Jarvis then flied out to center field, scoring Auerbach for a 4-0 lead. Chad Crosbie followed with a walk to reload the bases before Spencer Heinsius singled through the left side of the infield to give the Gauchos a 6-0 lead.
Saddleback held a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning and exploded for three more runs to extend the lead to 10-0. The Gauchos sent eight batters to the plate, with Heinsius providing the big blow with a two-run single up the middle with Filip Smola and Chris Demgen coming around to score. Saddleback would get its final run when Jordan Fitzgerald singled home Heinsius with two outs in the innings.
Saddleback had things in cruise control until the top of the eighth inning when the Cuesta bats woke up. The Cougars pieced together seven hits, six of which came with two outs in the inning. Cuesta would eventually score six runs in the inning to cut the Gauchos lead to 10-6.
Saddleback went back to the bullpen in the ninth inning when Alex Kent came in to close the door on Cuesta. Kent has now pitched eight innings out of the bullpen this season without giving up an earned run.
Brubaker started and was fabulous in improving to 3-0 on the season. The recent UC Irvine commit finished seven innings of two-hit ball…striking out seven along the way.
Saddleback (6-1) and Cuesta (3-3) will play game two of the series tomorrow night. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:00 PM at Doug Fritz Field.