Saddleback stung by Fullerton College Hornets in the ninth after eight innings of solid pitching

The Gauchos John Sheaks pitches to a Fullerton College Hornets batter in Tuesday's game at Saddleback College. Speaks went 6.1 innings, allowing no earned runs, but didn't factor into the decision. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

The Gauchos John Sheaks pitches to a Fullerton College Hornets batter in Tuesday’s game at Saddleback College. Speaks went 6.1 innings, allowing no earned runs, but didn’t factor into the decision. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

The Saddleback College baseball team had their 11-game winning streak snapped Tuesday when they lost to Fullerton College, 5-3 at home. The Gauchos have clinched at least a tie for a Orange Empire Conference championship and a win against the Hornets would have gave them sole possession of the title.

Both starting pitchers did well in the ball game, creating a pitchers duel that saw each go deep into the contest and keep the score tied 1-1 going into the ninth inning.

Fullerton’s Randall Ramirez threw a complete game, while only allowing three earned runs and eight hits. He also struck out two batters and gave up two walks.

Saddleback’s John Sheaks allowed one unearned run, gave up five hits and struck out two batters. He went 6.1 innings and thought they he could have done even better in the game.

“I think I pitched ok, I mean, I was behind a lot in the counts and I walked a lot of batters,” Sheaks said. “It was a tough strike zone and I tried to battle through the best I could.”

Fullerton got on the board first; getting a single from Andrew Piraino in the second inning that scored David Miranda.

The Gauchos did not even the score until the fifth inning when Kent Burckle doubled into the left field gap scoring Robbie Biehl.

Saddleback's Kyle Candalla swings at a pitch in Tuesday's game against the Fullerton College Hornets. The Gauchos lost to the Hornets, 5-3, ending their 11-game winning streak. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

Saddleback’s Kyle Candalla swings at a pitch in Tuesday’s game against the Fullerton College Hornets. The Gauchos lost to the Hornets, 5-3, ending their 11-game winning streak. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

“I was feeling pretty comfortable,” Burckle said. “[Ramirez] left a fastball elevated and I was able to barrel it up and put it in the gap.”

The game then went into a stalemate for the next three innings, seeing neither team score. Finally, Fullerton broke the tie with four runs in the top of the ninth inning off of relief pitcher Daniel Endsley.

Saddleback made a small comeback in the bottom half of the inning when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit a two-run home run, but they were unable to get the game tied and lost, 5-3.

“[Fullerton] did a good job swingin’ the bats, you know, it was their day today, that’s how I look at it,” Saddleback head coach Sommer McCartney said. “Two of the best teams in Southern California going head-to-head, I mean it’s a great matchup.”

The Gauchos and Hornets will face again on Thursday and then finish off their three-game series on Friday. If Saddleback wins either of those games, they win the OEC title. McCartney gave his thoughts on how the team can improve from Tuesday’s loss.

“We gotta take care of the baseball a little better, you know … and I think when you get a guy in scoring position, we gotta make sure we do a better job,” McCartney said.

The contest on Thursday is at Fullerton at 2 p.m. The series finale is on Friday at 6 p.m., back at Saddleback.

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