The Saddleback baseball team opened a critical three-game series with an 8-1 win over Orange Coast College on Tuesday at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos received a stunning performance on the mound while holding on to a piece of first place in the conference standings.
Saddleback and Orange Coast were both tied with Fullerton College atop the Orange Empire Conference standings and Tuesday marked the beginning of a four-week stretch that will decide the conference champion. The Gauchos got off to a good start with a dominating performance on the mound from Tanner Brubaker.
Brubaker (8-2, 1.21 ERA) pitched the first complete game of the season for Saddleback, striking out nine while spreading around nine hits and one walk. The lone hit run off of Brubaker came in the third inning on a solo home run from Landon Silver and was the only extra base hit all day for the Pirates. He allowed just two runners to advance past second base and concluded the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth.
Saddleback took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Orange Coast starter Juan Sanjuan had some control problems. Brett O'Toole doubled down the left-field line to start the inning and later advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from Chad Crosbie. He would then score on a wild pitch from Sanjuan, who lasted just three innings in falling to 0-2 on the season.
Orange Coast briefly tied the game in the top of the third inning before Saddleback took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Again it was O'Toole in the middle of things, singling home Mike Jarvis for a 2-1 lead. O'Toole and Jarvis would continue to frustrate the Pirate pitchers throughout, both finishing with three hits on the afternoon.
Jarvis gave Saddleback a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when he had a two-out triple to center field to score Riley Kasper. It was the third straight inning the Gauchos had scored and marked the beginning of the end for the Pirates.
Saddleback tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning when Connor Glenn hit his team-leading fifth home run of the season with O'Toole on base. Things went from bad to worse for Orange Coast in the sixth inning when the Gauchos added two more runs after a couple of blunders in the field for a 7-1 advantage. Saddleback wasn't finished, scoring in the sixth straight inning for an 8-1 lead after Orange Coast pitchers were guilty of another walk and wild pitch.
Saddleback (22-7, 7-3) finished the day with 12 hits and five walks while taking advantage of two costly Orange Coast errors. The Gauchos and Pirates (18-11, 6-4) will continue the series on Thursday at Orange Coast College. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM in Costa Mesa.