Saturday, the California Community College Athletics Association announced its 2013 Regional playoff brackets for both baseball and softball. Saddleback College saw both of its teams make it into the playoffs, with the baseball team grabbing the No. 3 seed and the softball team receiving the No. 12 seed.
After ending last season in sixth place in the Orange Empire Conference, the Gauchos baseball team turned it around this season to finish third in the OEC. This season was the first time in a decade that the Gauchos finished higher than fourth place in the OEC.
Pitching has been one of the keys to the Gauchos success this year, as sophomore Evan Manarino and freshman Tyler Brashears have combined for a 15-3 record with 109 strikeouts and a 1.55 ERA. Manarino is currently chasing the school single season ERA record among pitchers who threw a minimum of 50 innings pitched. His current 1.46 ERA is only six points higher than the 1.40 ERA that former Gaucho Greg Pennington put together during the baseball team’s first season in 1969.
The Gauchos softball team struggled toward the end of its season, going 5-5 in the final month while being outscored by opponents 56-60. The Gauchos were shutout three times in April, including an 8-0 loss to Santiago Canyon in their final game of the regular season.
Saddleback finished in fifth place in the Orange Empire Conference, their lowest finish since 2007 when they ended in sixth place with a 10-11 conference record. Despite that, they will be making their sixth consecutive appearance in the regional playoffs. Last season, the Gauchos were given the No. 6 seed, and advanced to the Super Regionals before being knocked out by College of the Canyons in two games, losing the first game 12-4 and the second 9-3. This will be the 13th time Saddleback will make a playoff appearance since 1995 when coach Nick Trani first took over.
The Regional finals for baseball begin on Friday, May 3 while softball will begin on Saturday, May 4. The baseball team will face off against No. 15 Bakersfield College at home. The Gauchos have typically had success against the Bakersfield Renegades, winning 15 of the 23 matchups between the two schools. The softball team will open off the playoffs on the road at College of the Canyons as the Gauchos will take on the No. 5 Cougars in the best of three games series.
Evan Manarino was one of the best pitchers for the Gauchos this season, putting together a team-best 9-1 record while leading the team in innings pitched (98.1) and ERA (1.46) and compiled the second most strikeouts on the team (50). (Michael Grennell)