The Bobcats 12 game winning streak is their longest since 2002. Tage Olsin | Wikimedia Commons
Saddleback baseball are OEC champions for the third time in their history
After being crowned OEC champions following their previous victory, the Saddleback baseball team continued their winning ways and defeated the Fullerton College Hornets 20-1 on April 28 en route to their 12th straight victory. This is the third OEC championship for Saddleback, their first since 2016.
During their 12-game winning streak, Saddleback has outscored opponents 114-35 in that span, dating back to the March 31 win against Santa Ana. The Bobcats last three games have been their most dominant stretch all season, scoring 46 runs while only allowing four runs.
Saddleback started the game off on the right foot, scoring 16 runs in the first five innings. Left fielder Cole Koniarsky kicked things off for the Bobcats with a RBI groundout. The big blow in the inning came off of a two-run home run from first baseman Luk Stuka that soared over the right field fence.
“I was looking for something up and in,” said Stuka, who will be playing at Cal State Northridge next year. “I’ve been working on some stuff and I finally got a pitch to drive and got it right.”
Shortstop Lance Gardiner capped off the first inning with an RBI double, scoring second baseman Zachary Shwartzberg. Gardiner finished the game 4-for-6 on the day, driving in three RBI.
Gardiner has been Saddleback’s hottest hitter, recording his third straight four hit game. During his last five games, Gardiner has gone 15-for-26 with two home runs and 10 RBI. He credits his streak to working extra hard in the batting cage with his coaches and maintaining consistency.
“I’ve been keeping things the same,” Gardiner said. “I’ve spent a lot of time before practice and after practice kind of dialing the swing down with our hitting coach. He’s done a really good job with a lot of kids on the team and it’s just been clicking recently.”
Saddleback put up seven more runs between the second and third inning, with third baseman Michael Davinni unloading on a curveball for a three-run home run over the left-center field fence. Davinni’s home run made it 10-0 to give the Bobcats a sizable lead for the rest of the game.
“Honestly, I was just looking for something middle of the plate that I could drive,” said Davinni, who’s committed to play at Coastal Carolina next season. “He had thrown quite a few balls in a row, so I was sitting dead red. It didn’t really matter what kind of pitch, it was just about the spot and I put a good swing on it and it helped us out.”
Saddleback put up five runs in the fifth inning and four runs in the seventh inning to cap off an outstanding day at the plate. The Bobcats finished with 20 hits on the day, making it the second time in three games they’ve accomplished this feat. Catcher Jordan Dissin was another key star for Saddleback, as he extended his hit streak to 19 games.
For head coach Sommer McCartney, this is his second conference championship in his 11th season at the mantle. This season’s Bobcats team is filled with veterans, and coach McCartney is glad to have these players with him in the quest for a state championship.
“This is a really good conference and it’s hard to win a championship, so I’m proud of their efforts all year long,” said McCartney. “We have a few guys here that have been around during the whole Covid season, so it’s nice seeing them get a chance to win a conference title. I’m happy for the whole team and the coaching staff.”
Saddleback finishes their regular season with a 32-8 overall record, clinching the first seed in the California Community College Athletic Association regional playoffs. They will play all of their games at Saddleback, with their first game was set for Friday, May 6 at 2 p.m.