The Saddleback baseball team opened the 2020 campaign with a 12-2 win against San Diego City College on Friday at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos led from start to finish in winning their opener for the sixth straight season.
Saddleback scored three runs in the opening inning thanks to some miscues on defense by San Diego City. After the first two batters were retired, Carson Matthews walked and quickly came home to score when San Diego City left-fielder Nic Ayala misplayed a fly ball from Joseph Canty, allowing him to advance three bases for the first run of the game. Nation Wood followed with a single to center field to score Canty and the Gauchos had a 2-0 lead. Soon thereafter, Wood advanced to third base on a throwing error on the pitcher, who attempting to pick off Wood at first base. Saddleback again made the Knights pay as Izaiah Faz delivered a single to right field for a 3-0 lead.
The second inning had a similar feel when Lance Gardiner led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and advanced to third when the San Diego City pitcher again threw wide on a pick-off attempt. The next batter was Alex Zerfass, who delivered a sacrifice fly to left field and the Gauchos led 4-0. Saddleback upped the lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the third inning when Carson Matthews hit a one-out solo shot just inside the foul pole for the first home run of the season.
Leading 5-2 in the bottom half of the fifth inning, Saddleback used three straight walks from relief pitcher Sanjay Solomon after the Knights pulled starter Chase Martinez to start the inning. Wood delivered a sacrifice fly followed by a single by Faz as the Gauchos upped the lead to 8-2.
Saddleback put the game out of reach in the bottom half of the seventh inning when Antonio Vultaggio blasted a three-run homer to left field that nearly cleared the netting on to the tennis courts. It gave the Gauchos a 12-2 lead as the pitching staff cruised through the ninth inning for a 1-0 start to the season.
Scott Armstrong (1-0) started on the hill and earned the win after pitching 4.1 innings of work. Armstrong struck out three and gave up a pair of earned runs before giving way to the bullpen. Saddleback then used a trio of guys as Matt Comnos, Ethan Holt and Ryan Lachemann stifled the San Diego City bats over the final 4.2 innings. The bullpen struck out six while walking just one.
Saddleback and San Diego City will play again on Saturday in San Diego. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 PM.