Saddleback pitcher Veronica Belleza pitched a perfect game on Saturday as the Gauchos defeated San Bernardino Valley College, 8-0, in five innings. It was the first perfect game in program history.
Belleza was making her first start of the season and was virtually untouchable through five innings of work. She struck out 13 of the 15 batters she faced with the other two batters being retired on bunt attempts where she threw them out at first base. In short, San Bernardino Valley never hit a ball further than 50 feet as the Gauchos improved to 1-1 on the season.
Saddleback took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the third inning when Rachel Varela delivered a two-out, two-run double to left-center field. It was 1-of-3 hits in the inning for the Gauchos as Mikayla Mattocks and Anne Thibert had singles earlier in the inning.
Saddleback blew the game open in the bottom half of the fourth inning, taking advantage of a few miscues by the San Bernardino Valley defense to take a 6-0 lead. Paige Welk picked up a couple of RBI's when she singled home Naomi Varela and Emma Estep for a 4-0 lead. She would later score on a defensive error from the Wolverines for a 5-0 lead before Thibert picked up an RBI on a sacrifice grounder to drive home Mattocks.
Saddleback finally closed out the game in the bottom of the fifth inning after San Bernardino put in its third pitcher of the day. Annalie Benjamen led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch before Saddleback received three straight singles from Estep, Naomi Varela and Welk for a 7-0 lead. The Gauchos then ended the game when Mattocks walked with the bases loaded to drive in the eighth run of the game for an 8-0 win.
Thibert, Naomi Varela, Welk and Mattocks all finished with two hits apiece as Saddleback outhit San Bernardino Valley 10-0.
For Belleza, it was the first-ever perfect game in the history of the program and the first no-hitter since Nelsa Barilea threw one in 2016. Saddleback's all-time leader for no-hitters is Patti Taylor, who threw five no-hitters during the 1988 season.
Saddleback (1-1) will play again on Tuesday when they travel to Grossmont College to take on the Griffins. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 PM.