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Saddleback completes a magical ride

Saddleback completes a magical ride

The Saddleback baseball team defeated San Joaquin Delta College, 8-5, on Monday at Mt. San Antonio College to win the California Community College Athletic Association (3C2A) state baseball championship. It was the second state title in program history.

Saddleback completed a magical ride on Monday, winning a third straight game in the tournament to claim the championship trophy.  It was the 10th win in the playoffs in 12 tries as the Bobcats won nine of their final 10 games down the stretch.

Saddleback had a decisive advantage heading into Monday's matchup, having won two straight games, and therefore having to play one less game in the tournament than their opponent, San Joaquin Delta.  It was a reversal of fortune from a year earlier when the Bobcats limped into the final day of the season before getting beaten soundly on championship Monday by Santa Ana College.

San Joaquin Delta, however, wasn't interested in going down quietly and made the Bobcats work.  Delta led 2-1 heading into the top half of the fifth inning when the momentum changed.  The Mustangs appeared to hit a wall to start the fifth inning as Ben Castelli led off the inning with a single and the next three batters were hit by pitches to tie the game at 2-2.  Things went from bad to worse for San Joaquin Delta when Rodrigo Barajas greeted a new pitcher on the mound with a single to drive home both Makani Tanaka and J.C. AllenMatthew Deutsch then followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Jacob Beauchaine for a 5-2 advantage.  The Mustangs then walked James Derflinger before hitting a fourth batter in the inning in Castelli, which brought home Barajas with the fifth run of the inning.  The five runs seemed to deflate a Delta squad that appeared to be running on fumes.

Saddleback tacked on two insurance runs in the top half of the seventh inning when Allen turned on a ball and drove it over the left field fence for an 8-2 lead.  It was Allen's 13th homer of the season and gave the Bobcat faithful some breathing room.

San Joaquin Delta made one more charge, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the eighth inning to make things interesting.  The Bobcats then went to Dylan Blakey in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Blakey closed the door with a pair of strikeouts and a harmless ground ball to shortstop to end the game (video below). 

Saddleback started Kamden Cisneros on the mound, and he gave way to Ryan Seymour in the third inning.  Seymour (3-0) pitched through the sixth inning in picking up the win in the decisive game.  Saddleback then went to Zachary Allegro, who pitched the Bobcats through the eighth inning.  Blakey picked up his third save of the season by closing the door in the ninth. 

Saddleback connected for 11 hits on the day, with Tanaka, Allen, Barajas and Derflinger all generating two hits in the game.  Takana scored three runs on the afternoon and finished with seven runs-scored for the tournament.  Castelli finished the tournament 7-for-15, and as a result was named the tournament MVP. 

Saddleback finishes the season 34-17 overall with the win.  San Joaquin Delta finishes the season at 36-15. 


Saddleback's state title was the first for the baseball program since winning the title in 2004.  Much like the 2024 finish, the 2004 run was a redemption tour as Saddleback defeated Cypress College in the state title game after losing to the Chargers in the championship a year earlier. 

The championship from Saddleback on Monday extended another streak, as it was the fourth straight championship from a member of the Orange Empire Conference (OEC).  Orange Coast College won the title in 2019, while Riverside City College captured the trophy in 2022 and Santa Ana College in 2023 (no tournament played in either 2020 or 2021 due to COVID).  In total, the OEC has now won seven of the past 10 state baseball championships dating back to 2013, with five different programs claiming the hardware. 

The title on Monday was the 31st overall championship and 24th state championship in the history of Saddleback College Athletics.  In addition to the 24 California community college championships, Saddleback has also won seven national championships.  The school won three mythical national titles in football (JCGridwire) and three NSSA college surfing (co-ed) national championships.  A seventh national title was added when Saddleback women's soccer was named national champions by the United Soccer Coaches after winning the California state title in 2022.