The Saddleback baseball team defeated Riverside City College, 5-4, on Saturday in Riverside. The Gauchos rallied from behind before closer Bradley Spooner closed the door.
Less than 12 months ago it was Riverside that knocked the top-seeded Gauchos out of the post-season tournament when they came to Saddleback and took 2-of-3 from the Gauchos as the 18-seed. This season Saddleback could get a little revenge after beating Riverside for the second time this week and knocking them out of first place in the Orange Empire Conference standings.
Saddleback started slowly on Saturday as Riverside scored a run in the first inning and two more in the second in grabbing a 3-0 lead. The Gauchos wasted no time in pulling its starter in the bottom half of the second inning, trying to keep things close.
Saddleback finally broke through in the fourth inning when Erik Voller doubled home Tyler Clark and Adam Gordon to cut the lead to 3-2. It was one of three hits on the afternoon for Voller, who entered the game batting .221 for the year.
Riverside pushed across a run in the bottom half of the fourth to grab a 4-2 lead before Saddleback again bounced back. Clark's sacrifice fly in the top half of the fifth inning scored Jerry Carrillo, and then Gordon scored on a wild pitch in the top half of the sixth inning as the Gauchos drew even at 4-4.
The game remained tied into the eighth inning when Saddleback finally pulled ahead. Zack Bowman led off the inning with a single and was moved over to second base on a sacrifice by Brett O'Toole. Gordon then doubled to right-center field, scoring Bowman and giving Saddleback its first lead of the game.
The Gauchos wasted no time in getting closer Bradley Spooner into the game despite it only being the eighth inning. Spooner got into a mini-jam in the eighth but managed to get a ground ball to Mike Jarvis at shortstop to retire the Tigers with two runners on base. The ninth inning went much smoother, as Riverside managed a couple of lazy ground balls before Spooner dialed up the gas to strike out Peter McEvoy for the final out of the game.
For Spooner, it was his record-setting eighth save of the year. Four different Gauchos had had seven saves in a season, with the last being P.J. Sandoval in 2003.
Saddleback is now 24-13 overall and 10-8 in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos moved into sole possession of third place after Cypress fell to Fullerton for the second time this week.
Saddleback will face Cypress in a three-game series to finish the regular season next week. Game one is set for Tuesday at Doug Fritz Field at 2:00 PM. Cypress hosts game two on Thursday at 2:00 PM before the Gauchos host game three on Friday at 2:00 PM.