The Saddleback baseball team opened the Orange Empire Conference schedule with a 4-1 win over Fullerton College on Tuesday afternoon in Fullerton. Zak Herbers pitched six solid innings in picking up the win.
Saddleback had a number of chances to blow the game wide open but couldn't get a key hit in big situations, putting the pressure on the pitching staff to keep the Hornets in check. The Gaucho staff did just that, holding Fullerton to only five hits while generating just enough runs to open the OEC schedule with a win.
Herbers was solid, pitching through the sixth inning in improving to 4-0 on the season. He struck out four while walking two before turning the ball over to the bullpen. Ethan Holt then picked up where Herbers left off, shutting down the Hornet offense the last three innings in picking up the save. Holt got himself in a jam in the bottom of the ninth inning when he issued a pair of walks and had a wild pitch to put the tying run at the plate with two outs in the inning. He then got Eddie Ureno to hit into an unassisted putout to Zack Bowman at first base to end the game for his first save of the season.
Saddleback's Willie Lajoie continued to break out of a slump with his biggest game of the year on offense. Lajoie entered the game with a .235 batting average after leading the team with a .365 average a season ago. He reached base four times on Tuesday, finishing 3-for-4 with a walk in raising his season average to .273. Lajoie is now 9-for-20 in the past five games, raising his season average .102 points.
Saddleback improved to 11-5 overall and 1-0 in Orange Empire Conference play with the win. The Gauchos have two games remaining in the three-game series with Fullerton, starting with a home date on Thursday and concluding with a road game at Fullerton on Saturday. Thursday's game against the Hornets is scheduled for 2:00 PM at Doug Fritz Field, weather permitting. Saturday's game at Fullerton is scheduled for 12:00 PM.