Off to their best start since 2010, the Gauchos baseball team improved to 6-0 after sweeping Santa Barbara City College in the double header, winning the first game 6-5 and the second game 7-0.
The eighth inning in both of the games proved to be key for the Gauchos. In the first game, Saddleback managed to tie, and then take the lead thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from shortstop Josh Fuentes and catcher Eric Ehlow. The Gauchos put away the second game in the eighth inning, when they put up five runs to extend their lead to 7-0.
Ehlow put up big numbers in the two game matchup, going 5-9 with a double and three runs batted in. Ehlow’s five hit day raised his season batting average from .267 to .375.
Opening day second baseman Jeff Butler made his return to the lineup after missing the last three games due to a concussion. Butler was hit by a pitch three times in the opening day win, two of which hit him in the head.
“We had to make sure all the concussion symptoms were gone before he was eligible to play again,” head coach Sommer McCartney said. “He’s feeling much better and we are glad to have him back.”
In his return, Butler was a combined 1-7 in the two games, with his lone hit being an RBI double in the seventh inning of the first game. Despite only getting one hit, Butler drove in two runs, scored three times, and stole a base, as well as getting hit by a pitch for the fourth time this season.
Josh Fuentes continued to rake on offense, going 3-8 in the two games, knocking in two runs and stealing three bases to give him a team high six stolen bases on the year.
Fuentes has now gotten a hit in each of the team’s six games this year.
After allowing five runs in the first two innings of the early game, the Gauchos pitching staff shut down the Vaqueros offense, allowing only three hits the rest of the game.
Coach McCartney was impressed with how his bullpen performed in the early game, saying that they kept the Gauchos in the game. “Our pitching really stepped up,” McCartney said. “And we found a way to get it done.”
Freshman pitcher Seth Pedersen put up an impressive performance in the second game of the day, allowing only two hits over six shutout innings while striking out seven in the winning effort.
McCartney said that the pitching staff is going to be key to the team’s success throughout the season, saying that they will need to keep them in the games early on. He also said that while he felt the defense was doing well, on offense, the team was going to have to be more aggressive earlier in their at bats.
The Gauchos (6-0) will be on the road for their next game, as they face off against the Glendale College Vaqueros (1-3) on Wednesday Feb. 13. Following that, Saddleback will return home for their next two games against Chaffey and San Diego Mesa.
The Gauchos will begin their conference schedule on Feb. 28, when they play host to the Cypress College Chargers.