Gauchos starting pitcher Evan Manarino winds up to throw in Friday’s season opener. Manarino ended the night with 5.2 innings pitched, giving up two runs on four hits while getting credited with the win. (Michael Grennell)
In the Gauchos baseball season opener, Saddleback sent 19 position players and four pitchers out onto the field in their 19-2 win over the San Diego City Knights.
Most of the Gaucho’s runs came in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. After putting up four runs on four hits in the second, Saddleback put up five runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings. Despite being held scoreless in the third and seventh innings, the Gauchos still managed to have runners on base in every inning of the game.
Left-hander Evan Manarino started the game by pitching five shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk. Manarino ended the night going 5.2 innings, allowing four hits, two runs, two walks, and a strikeout on the way to picking up the win. The bullpen picked up where Manarino left off, as the Gauchos had three pitchers combine for 3.1 innings of one hit ball.
Most of the offensive power came from the Gauchos middle infielders, second baseman Jeff Butler and shortstop Josh Fuentes. Butler had only one at-bat on the night in which he doubled to right center field. In each of his other three plate appearances, Butler was hit by a pitch. Along with being hit three times, he scored three runs, stole three bases, and was credited with an RBI after getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the second inning.
Fuentes went 3-3 with a triple, four RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base.
Third baseman Brian Romero also had a solid performance, finishing the game 1-2 with a double, an RBI, two runs scored, and two walks. After the game, Romero was very excited for the team’s prospects.
“I think the game was great. Everyone had a lot of energy,” Romero said. “We’ve got a great squad out here. I think we have a lot of talented players out here, and I think we have a good shot (at reaching the playoffs).”
Entering his second year as head coach, Sommer McCartney was pleased with how the team looked Friday. “We scored 19 runs on 18 hits. That’s pretty nice,” McCartney said. “I like our group. I think we have a good, balanced attack.”
McCartney continued on, saying that he felt the team had solid chemistry, and they would perform well. “We’re taking it day by day. We have goals and we want to make the playoffs,” McCartney said. “I think our ceiling is pretty high.”
The next day, the Gauchos traveled to San Diego City College, where they took on the Knights in a rematch. Saddleback led 5-1 going into the bottom of the 8th inning, but they surrendered two runs in the bottom of the 8th, and two more in the bottom of the 9th, to force the game into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, designated hitter Brandon Cody smacked an RBI single to left field to give the Gauchos the lead, as they beat the Knights again, this time by a score of 6-5.
Saddleback returns home from San Diego for a four game home stand this week, which culminates in a double-header on Saturday against Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros.
Gauchos second baseman Jeff Butler slides into second base just ahead of the throw. Butler stole three bases in the win, and was also hit by a pitch three times. (Michael Grennell)