The Saddleback baseball team picked up an important win with an 8-4 victory over Cypress College on Wednesday at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos never trailed in moving within a game of first place.
Saddleback started the day two games back of Cypress, who was 4-0 out of the gate in Orange Empire Conference play entering the day. The Gauchos didn't panic, outplaying the Chargers and keeping themselves within arms distance in the race for the OEC title.
Saddleback took a lead in the bottom half of the second inning when they busted out for three runs. The Gauchos had three hits in the inning and took advantage of a hit batsman. Tyler Chaffee led off with a double and later came around to score on a double from Joseph Canty. Tyler Declusin followed with a single that scored Antonio Vultaggio, who earlier had been hit by a pitch. Carson Matthews drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Canty and Saddleback had a 3-0 lead. In the process, the Gauchos knocked Cypress starter Patrick Monroe from the game after just 1.1 innings of work, after Monroe had started the year 3-0 with an ERA hovering around 2.75.
Saddleback surrendered a run in the top half of the third inning but quickly responded with another run in the bottom of the third, thanks to some carelessness in the field from the Cypress defense and wildness from the Charger pitching staff. With a pair of walks and an error in the inning, Vultaggio made the Chargers pay with a two-out single to drive home Nation Wood, who had reached on a walk.
Saddleback tacked on two more runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead. Carson Matthews led off the inning with a towering home run to left field for a 5-1 lead. With two outs in the inning, Izaiah Faz tripled to deep center field and was brought home on a single from Chaffee to give the Gauchos a five-run lead.
Matt Comnos started on the mound and was cruising through four innings before running into a jam in the top half of the fifth inning. After a double, two walks and a single to start the inning, Comnos got a couple of outs and after giving up two runs and the Gauchos went to the bullpen. They called on Ashton Goddard, who shut down the Cypress attack with a 6-3 lead intact.
Goddard then continued for another three innings, giving up only one hit while striking out two in pitching through the eighth inning. When he left, Saddleback had an 8-3 lead after scoring solo runs in the sixth and seventh innings. For Goddard, it was his first win of the season and he lowered his ERA by 2.70 in giving the Gauchos a boost out of the bullpen.
Saddleback had another stellar day at the plate, outhitting the Chargers 14-5 on the day. The Gauchos had six players with multiple hits in the game, with Declusin, Matthews, Chaffee, Vultaggio, Canty and Dylan Smith all recording two hits apiece.
Saddleback and Cypress are scheduled to conclude the three-game set on Saturday at Cypress, weather permitting. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM.