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image c/o JPWest Media
image c/o JPWest Media

Cats nipping at the heels of regional finals

The Saddleback baseball team is now one win from the 3C2A Regional Finals after a 15-4 win against Los Angeles Valley College on Friday in Valley Glen.  The Bobcats pounced on the Monarch pitching staff, blasting four home runs in the win.

Saddleback entered a regional tournament on the road for the first time since 2017 when most of the kids on the team were in middle school.  The bats have felt right at home, scoring 21 runs in winning games against Fullerton and now Los Angeles Valley.  The latest win on Friday has Saddleback one win from playing in the regional finals next weekend.

Saddleback was facing a Los Angeles Valley pitcher (Cole Clark) that entered the day with a 1.86 ERA.  They greeted him seven runs over the first three innings in grabbing a 7-1 lead.  The big blow was a grand slam from Makani Tanaka in the bottom of the second inning as the Bobcats took a 5-0 advantage.

The Tanaka homer was a sign of good things to come as Saddleback hit three more darts on the day.  Jacob Hudson hammered a ball over the left-center field wall in the third inning as the lead grew to 7-1.  The Bobcats then hit two home runs in the seventh inning as things got away from the Monarchs.  Hudson (pictured) hit his second of the day to left-center for a solo shot before Andrew Nykoluk hit a two-run shot as the lead grew to 10-4. 

In total, Saddleback pounded out 15 hits on the day and chased Clark from the game in the top half of the seventh inning.  Matthew Deutsch finished 3-for-3 and is now 5-for-7 in the regional.  Tanaka, Hudson, Nykoluk, Ben Castelli, Jacob Beauchaine and Rodrigo Barajas all finished with two hits apiece. 

Meanwhile, the pitching staff pieced together nine solid innings in holding down a potent LA Valley attack.  Kamden Cisneros started and pitched two innings before Tyler Byrns came in and pitched through the sixth inning to pick up the win.  Jake Porter threw three solid innings down the stretch with the Bobcats comfortably in control.

Saddleback is now 28-16 overall following the win.  The Bobcats and Monarchs will play again on Saturday, with Saddleback needing one win to advance to the regional finals next weekend.  The game time has yet to be determined.