Gauchos rally past Rustlers for shot at OEC title

Gauchos rally past Rustlers for shot at OEC title

The Saddleback baseball team enters the final day of the regular season one game behind Orange Coast College in the Orange Empire Conference standings after an 8-7 win at Golden West College on Thursday.  The Gauchos rallied from a four-run deficit and hung on for the win.

Saddleback needed a win on Thursday and a loss from Orange Coast to set up a big final day of the season on Friday.  The Gauchos received a gift from Riverside City College, who upended OCC, 2-1, while the Gauchos were rallying past Golden West.

Saddleback trailed 4-0 and looked somewhat lethargic entering the sixth inning before making a comeback.  The Gauchos started the rally when Mike Jarvis hammered a two-run homer over the left-field wall to close the gap to 4-2.  It was the second home run of the season for Jarvis, who has been red hot over the past month and has hits in each of his last nine games. 

Golden West and Saddleback both added solo runs in the seventh inning and the game headed to the eighth inning with the Rustlers holding a 5-3 lead.  Saddleback had two runners on base when Spencer Heinsius stepped into the box with two outs.  Heinsius (pictured) proceeded to plant a ball over the left field wall to give the Gauchos a 6-5 lead on his fourth home run of the season.  It was his second home run in as many games and gives him four hits in the series with one game to play.

Saddleback wasn't finished, scoring two more runs in the top half of the ninth inning when Brett Auerbach drove in Riley Kasper with a single and later scored on a single from Willie Lajoie.  The two runs would play a pivotal role as Golden West rallied for a pair of runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning before Bradley Spooner closed the door with his first save of the season.

Saddleback and Golden West will play the final game of the series and regular season today as the Gauchos host the Rustlers at Doug Fritz Field at 2:00 PM.  Meanwhile, RCC and OCC will play in Riverside at 2:00 PM with the Tigers playing for sole possession of third place and the Pirates playing for the outright OEC title.

OEC STANDINGS (with SoCal Massey Rating entering the week)

1. Orange Coast 14-6 26-13 #2
2. Saddleback 13-7 28-11 #1
3. Riverside 11-9 25-14 #6
4. Cypress 10-10 25-14 #5
T5. Santa Ana 9-11 21-18 #8
T5. Fullerton 9-11 17-21 #17
7. Irvine Valley 8-12 18-21 #24
8. Golden West 6-14 18-21 #14