The Saddleback baseball team opened the 2018 playoffs with a 16-5 win over East Los Angeles College on Friday night at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos collected 13 hits and nine walks in taking a 1-0 lead in the series.
Saddleback was consistent throughout on offense, putting constant pressure on an East Los Angeles pitching staff that was having a tough time finding the strike zone. The Gauchos scored in 6-of-8 innings, also capitalizing on three Husky errors.
Saddleback trailed 3-2 heading to the bottom of the fourth inning when they struck for four runs in taking control of the game. The Gauchos had four hits and three walks in the inning, forcing East Los Angeles starting pitcher Paul Kosanovich from the game. Riley Kasper tripled home the tying run after Connor Glenn had reached base with a walk to start the inning. The Gauchos later tied three straight hits together as Mike Jarvis, Brett Auerbach and Willie Lajoie all singled off Kosanovich for a 5-3 lead. With two outs, Kosanovich then walked both Chad Crosbie and Spencer Heinsius, forcing him to the showers.
Saddleback tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Heinsius doubled home both Lajoie and Crosbie. They added three more runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning, taking advantage of four more walks from the Husky pitching staff. The Gauchos then put a stamp on things in the bottom half of the eighth inning by scoring five more times, sending nine players to the plate. Lajoie was again the catalyst with a single to clear the bases as East Los Angeles was guilty of their third error of the game on the play, allowing Auerbach to come all the way around to score from first base.
Lajoie (pictured) finished 3-for-5 with three RBI on the night while Jarvis, Heinsius and Jordan Fitzgerald all collected two hits apiece. Connor Glenn had the most interesting stat line of the night, going 0-for-1 with four runs-scored. Glenn reached base on four plate appearances, walking twice and getting plunked by a pitch on two occasions.
Tanner Brubaker started on the mound and pitched eight innings in improving to 12-2 on the season. Brubaker finished with eight strikeouts while surrendering only one walk before turning the ball over the Zak Nocon in the ninth inning.
Saddleback (29-12) and East Los Angeles (23-18) will play game two of the series tomorrow at 2:00 PM at Doug Fritz Field. Game three would follow, if necessary.