The Saddleback baseball team took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with a 9-5 win over Palomar College on Friday at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos battered Comet pitching for 15 hits in moving within one game of the regional finals.
Saddleback was facing one of the better hitting teams in the state and got off to a slow start in the first inning when a two-out error provided a 3-0 lead for the visiting Comets. From that point forward the Gauchos controlled the game, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning to take the lead and five more times in the sixth to take command of the game.
Saddleback chipped away at the lead, scoring a solo run in the bottom half of the second inning when Riley Kasper doubled home Chad Crosbie with two outs in the inning to cut the deficit to 3-1. The Gauchos then found their stroke in the bottom half of the fifth inning when Kasper led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a single by Mike Jarvis. With one out in the inning, Brett Auerbach completely changed the complexion of the game when he blasted a three-run homer over the left field fence for a 4-3 lead.
Palomar changed pitchers in the bottom half of the sixth inning in attempt to change the momentum. It didn't work as the Gauchos took control by scoring five runs, four of which came with two outs in the inning. Saddleback had five hits in the inning and took advantage of a throwing error by Palomar first baseman Michael Galvan. The untimely boot led to a two-run double from Brett O'Toole to stretch the Gaucho lead to 9-3.
Tanner Brubaker started on the hill for Saddleback and after a rocky first inning settled into a rhythm. The ace of the staff pitched into the seventh inning before giving way to the bullpen with the Gauchos holding a comfortable lead. Brubaker (13-2) struck out four while allowing two earned-runs in picking up the win before Alex Kent entered the game with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Kent would pitch through the eighth inning before turning the ball over to Connor Sealey in the ninth inning.
After a quiet start, Saddleback rallied for 15 hits in the game. Auerbach, Willie Lajoie and Spencer Heinsius all had three this apiece. Riley Kasper extended his hitting streak to four game in finishing 2-for-3, including a pair of doubles.
Saddleback and Palomar will play game two of the three-game series tomorrow at 1:00 PM at Doug Fritz Field (Palomar considered home team for game two). With a win, Saddleback would advance to the regional finals next weekend. A loss would force a game three on Sunday at 12:00 PM.
OTHER SCORES FROM FRIDAY
Orange Coast 2, Riverside 1
El Camino 6, Cerritos 2
Mt. San Antonio 5, Glendale 4
Sacramento City 13, Fresno City 7
Sierra 19, Mission 10
San Joaquin Delta 15, San Mateo 12
Ohlone 6, Feather River 5