The Saddleback baseball team advanced to the second round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs with a 7-5 win over East Los Angeles College in 11 innings on Saturday at Doug Fritz Field. With the win the Gauchos advance to host Palomar College starting next Friday.
Saddleback and East Los Angeles battled through hot temperatures and suspect fielding in a game that lasted close to four hours. Both teams looked as if they were destined to win in regulation at one point or another, but to no avail they battled through dinner plans until the Gauchos finally got the Huskies to obey in the 11th inning.
Saddleback took the lead for good in the top of the 11th when Chad Crosbie hammered a ball towards the first baseman and it took a bad hop, ricocheting off his right shoulder out of play to allow Willie Lajoie to come all the way around to score from second base. The next batter was Spencer Heinsius, who laced a ball off the left-field wall for an RBI triple and a 7-5 lead.
Saddleback then went to its fourth pitcher of the day in Bradley Spooner, who struck out two to pick up his second save of the season and advance the Gauchos into the second round.
Saddleback started Daniel Harris on the mound, and Harris pitched well despite leaving in the bottom of the sixth on the wrong side of a 4-3 game. Harris was victimized by six errors in the field, surrendering only one earned-run while striking out four.
Alex Kent took over with two outs in the sixth inning and was in a grove until the ninth inning when Steven Nuno hit a solo home run over the right field fence to tie the game at 5-5. Connor Sealey was called upon to get out of a jam and got Grant Victor to hit into a tailor-made double play with the bases loaded. Sealey (1-2) pitched through the 10th inning in pickung up the win before turning the ball over to Spooner in the bottom of the 11th.
Heinsius, Crosbie (pictured) and Brett O'Toole all collected two hits on the day and reached base three times. Saddleback hitters were allowed seven free passes and three more hit-batsmen by Husky pitchers a day after receiving nine walks and four hit-batsmen on Friday.
Saddleback (30-12) advances to host Palomar College (28-15) in the second round of the playoff, starting Friday. The game time for the opening game has yet to be determined. Palomar advanced by winning 2-of-3 against College of the Canyons.