The Saddleback baseball team picked up a big win on Saturday when it edged Palomar College, 12-11, at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos opened up a big lead and held on for the win to improve to 6-3.
Saddleback extended its season-best winning streak to four games on Saturday by beating one of the better programs in Southern California in a game that lasted 3.5 hours. It was also sweet revenge for the Gauchos, who lost to Palomar earlier in the season.
Saddleback jumped on the Comets early, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning in opening up a big lead. Ryan Thibert led off the game by reaching base on an error by Palomar second baseman Jaiston Cabatbat, eventually coming around to score the first run of the game on a single by Zack Bowman. It would end up being the first of six errors in the game by the Comets, who couldn't get out of the way of themselves on defense. Saddleback would finish the inning by sending 10 batters to the plate…recording four hits while taking advantage of two walks, a wild pitch and the error.
Palomar battled back with two runs in both the second and third innings to cut the lead to 6-4. Reed Beverly quickly responded by leading off the bottom of the third inning with his first home run of the season to push the lead back to 7-4. It was just the second home run of the season for the Gauchos, whose previous lone home run came against Cuesta College on February 8.
Palomar wasn't finished as the Comets scored a solo run in the fourth inning and two more times in the top of the fifth inning to cut the Gaucho lead to 8-7. Saddleback again responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, taking advantage of a few more blunders on the part of the Palomar pitching staff. The Gauchos received a hit batsman, a walk and a passed ball before Demitri Colacchio made it hurt with a two-out double to score both Nick Lopez and Hank Schineller for a 10-7 lead.
After Palomar scored a solo run in the sixth inning, Saddleback extended the lead with runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings. The Gauchos took advantage of another error in the seventh when Reed Beverly singled to start out the inning and then stole second base on a strikeout by Casey Downs. Beverly (pictured) then stole third base and advanced home on another error by the Palomar infield. The Gauchos again capitalized on a defensive error in the bottom half of the eighth inning when Riley Kasper doubled with one out in the inning and advanced to third base on a throwing error. He would eventually come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Willie Lajoie as the Saddleback lead increased to 12-8 heading to the ninth inning.
Palomar wasn't going to go down without a fight in the top half of the ninth inning. The Comets rallied for three runs to cut the lead to 12-11, putting the tying run at second base with two outs in the inning. Scott Armstrong got himself out of a jam by getting Evan Ianniciello to ground out to Lajoie at third base, giving the Gauchos a spirited win. It was Armstrong's second save of the season as Saddleback improved to 6-3 on the season with two weeks remaining before heading into Orange Empire Conference play.
Saddleback will try to extend the winning streak on Wednesday when they host El Camino College. The Gauchos and Warriors are scheduled to start at 2:00 PM at Doug Fritz Field.