Baseball dominates season opener

SB v SDCC 1 (Stephanie Plese)

Austin Messick

Aggressive batting and sound defensive plays helped the Saddleback College men’s baseball team win its season opener Friday against San Diego City College 15-1.

The Gaucho’s 16 hits and 12 RBIs were two major factors that aided their victory. Outfielder/ pitcher Dylan Christensen led the team with three hits followed by Elliot Martin, Spencer Kuehn, Lee Casas and Matt Paradise who each had two.

“We’ve been working on just being aggressive with pitches,” Christensen said. “We’ve been playing good defense, we worked on that a lot this fall.”

Defensively, the Gauchos allowed one run and six hits by the Knights. Sophomore pitcher Jordan Helmkamp faced 24 batters and allowed only four hits in seven innings.

In the first inning, Helmkamp quickly cleared the plate and made way for the Gauchos’ oncoming offensive assault. With the bases loaded and no outs, Martin hit a ground ball to second base bringing in outfielder Ryan Forkel for Saddleback’s first run

After one out, Kuehn hit a fly ball to center field, which was caught by Antonio Carillo, but brought in third baseman Ryan Pugmire for the Gauchos’ second run. With Paradise on first base and Martin on second base, 6-foot-7inch freshman designated hitter Lee Casas stepped up to bat in competition for the first time in his college career.

On the first pitch thrown to him, Casas hit a 373 foot home run over the center-field fence to bring in three runs. This elevated the score to 5-0 bringing momentum to the Gauchos early on.

After another RBI in the third inning by first baseman/outfielder Cole Shidaki the Gauchos led 6-0. Catcher Josh Huntzinger and Kuehn both had one-run RBIs in the sixth inning. Kuehn then scored on a SDCC error when catcher Kevin Garcia failed to throw out Shidaki when he stole second base.

Then Forkel stepped up to bat and hit a double to left center field bringing in Shidaki and lifting the score to 10-0. In the seventh inning the Gauchos continued their offensive barrage.

Because of an SDCC error by right-fielder Gilbert Guardado, Paradise was able to turn a single into a triple and bring in Martin for another run. Two more RBIs by Kuehn and infielder Gilbert Viera along with two error assisted runs helped the Gauchos raise the score to 15-0.

The Knights scored their only run of the game when Garcia hit a line drive down the right-field line to bring in infielder Rich Aguirre. Defensively, SDCC struggled all day with its pitchers committing 10 walks, seven which were due to batters being hit by wild pitches.

“Let’s be honest we didn’t show up that’s all, we didn’t throw strikes,” said SDCC starting pitcher Nick Geraci. “Our pitchers didn’t throw strikes, that’s pretty much it, there’s no excuse. We were behind early and that probably took the momentum away.”

This victory gave the Gauchos their first opening day win in two years. It also put Coach Jack Hodges nine games away from obtaining the most wins for a coach in any sport in Saddleback’s history.

The Gauchos will compete against Palomar this Thursday at 2 p.m at Saddleback.

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