Gauchos back in the swing

David Grant

Apparently, all that Saddleback needed was a two-game set with West Los Angeles after being roughed up in their season opener against Southwestern last Tuesday. The Gauchos (2-1) scored 27 runs in the two contests against the Wildcats (0-2), including a 14-3 drubbing on Saturday. Saddleback had scoring outbursts in both games against WLAC, tallying seven runs in the fourth inning on Friday, then pushed eight runners across the plate in the sixth inning on Saturday.

Pitching was an area of strength for the Gauchos heading into this season, but when sophomore Zac Johnston left the opener against Southwestern with an arm injury, it appeared they might be in for a bumpy ride. With Johnston sidelined against the Wildcats, sophomore Tim Troyer got the victory on Friday, tossing 3.1 innings and striking out four. Troyer allowed just two hits in his relief work, and gave up only one run as Saddleback turned a close game into a rout.

Sophomore right fielder Jeff Montenegro led the offensive surge, collecting three hits, driving in three runs and scoring twice. He provided the Gauchos with speed on the bases, stealing twice and keeping the West L.A. pitchers from getting too comfortable on the mound. Freshman second baseman Sean Parvin also had a huge game for Saddleback on Friday, banging out three hits, including a double, scored twice and drove in two runs. Sophomore third baseman Nick McManus scored two runs while the Gauchos pounded out 11 hits as they tucked away their first win of the season.

On Saturday, Saddleback’s offense was back at it again, turning another close game into a rout. With a 1-0 lead in the sixth, sophomore Trevor Whyte doubled and drove in two runs, freshman Dalton Sype homered and collected three RBI, freshman Dylan Tortarolo doubled, drove in two runs and scored on a balk by WLAC’s Luis Olague. With a comfortable 9-0 lead, Gaucho pitchers went to work on the Wildcat hitters and cashed in to the tune of 10 strikeouts and just three runs allowed. Sophomore starter Robert Ross got the victory, striking out six and allowing just two hits in six innings. Freshman left-hander Alex Meza and sophomore righty Zack Richmond pitched the eighth and ninth innings and combined for three strikeouts and just one earned run.

West L.A. left 17 total runners on base in the two games, including 13 in Friday’s loss. Montenegro has proven to be a sparkplug at the top of the Gaucho order, going 5-for-9 in the two games against the Wildcats, driving in four runs and scoring four times. Sophomore Jeff Lucero also enjoyed hitting against West L.A. this past weekend, going a combined 5-for-7, scoring three runs and collecting four RBI.

Saddleback looks to add to its two-game winning streak this week as they travel to Palomar to face the Comets in their first road venture of the season. The Gauchos return home to play Santa Barbara next Friday and Saturday in a tough, non-conference matchup.