Kyle Ferret, 16, guarding home base
This has been a phenomenal season thus far for Saddleback’s ace pitcher, Evan Manarino. He was at a perfect 5-0 coming into the game on Mar. 7. He was looking to get his sixth straight win over the equally talented team, the Santa Ana College Dons.
It was expected to be a great pitching duel with Santa Ana’s best pitcher, Matt Blanchard, on the mound. The game plan was to “try to be ready to hit and get his [Matt Blanchard] fastball early,” coach Sommer McCartney said.
Through three innings, neither pitcher was allowing any batters to get ahold of any of their pitches. Blanchard only gave up one hit and Manarino only gave up two. It was all a matter of what pitcher would slip up first.
All was well for Manarino until the fourth inning, where Santa Ana found their stride. They were able to put runners on base and ultimately bring in two runners to take the lead. Even though not many runs were scored by Santa Ana, Manarino was in constant trouble with men on base the whole 7.2 innings he pitched.
“Yeah, they were just a tough team,” Manarino said. “We will get them next time.”
With an ERA of three, it ultimately wasn’t a bad game for Manarino, but the 10 hits he gave up and the constant pressure of those situations wasn’t the ideal situation for a starting pitcher.
“He didn’t give us his great stuff today, but he gave us a chance to win,” McCartney said after the game.
With the Gauchos only being able to put up two runs on the board out of the four hits they had, offensively they weren’t anywhere to be found. Defensively it wasn’t any better, with their three errors in the game.
At the bottom of the eighth, a ray of sunshine came down on the Gauchos in what looked to be a game tying rally. They were finally able to get men on base consecutively and put them in scoring position.
Although they put up a great fight in the end, ultimately the superior pitching of Blanchard was too much for the Gauchos this game. They left a man on base and were never able to put another man in scoring position. This solidified the win for the Santa Ana Dons and put them securely in first place in the Orange Empire Conference.
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