Saddleback trying to close strong down the stretch

Glendale batter faces Saddleback pitcher. Trevor Speetzen | Lariat

The Bobcats look to have some momentum going into the playoffs

The regular season came to a close for the Saddleback baseball team as they played the Fullerton Hornets on April 28. The game closed out the regular season and the Bobcats will begin their push for the championship by playing their first game in the California Community College Athletics Association regional playoff on May 6.

Over the course of the season, Saddleback has posted a total record of 32-8 with an impressive record of 17-4 against teams in their conference. The team was virtually unbeatable at home with only recording two losses this year. The team won their final 13 games of the regular season, in that stretch they defeated Santa Ana, Irvine Valley, Sequoias, Golden West and Fullerton.

This season the Bobcats have had three players commit to new schools next year: third baseman Michael Davinni has committed to Coastal Carolina next season, first baseman Luc Stuka intends to play for California State University, Northridge and just recently the catcher Jordan Dissin plans to transfer to University of California, San Diego.

The team’s winning season this year has stemmed from many factors. Catcher Jordan Dissin had this to say about their pitching after having their backs against the wall versus Glendale.

“You know of course everyone kind of feels a little panicked,” Dissin said. “Knowing our pitching staff, I’m pretty confident we were going to get out of it somehow and we did.”

An example of this team’s resilience occurred early in the season in that game against Glendale on Feb. 11. After jumping out to an early lead and building upon it, it looked like Saddleback would cruise to a victory. However, the Glendale Vaqueros came storming back to close the score within two runs and they had all of the momentum. 

The score was 8-6 with two innings left and the Bobcat’s bats had gone silent. Instead of crumpling under the pressure, head coach Sommer McCartney decided to bring in pitcher Arthur Liu to close out the game. Not shying away from the pressure, Liu pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts to win the game for Saddleback. McCartney had high praise for Liu.

“He’s been really good so far this season for us,” McCartney said. “He’s done a great job throwing strikes. He’s tough to hit.”

While the pitching staff has had an exceptional season this year, the team’s hitting this year shouldn’t be unnoticed either. The team scored 390 runs, hit 27 home runs with a .334 batting average this year. At least 10 players are batting over .300 and eight of them have 100 at-bats. 

These five players include Stuka and Dissin, as well as freshman outfielder Cole Koniarsky, sophomore shortstop Lance Gardiner and sophomore outfielder Jonathan Behm. The only player batting above .400 is Davinni, but an unfortunate ankle injury this season has held him to only 19 games this year. Behm had this to say about the team’s offense against Glendale.

“Tough AB’s (at-bats), had to grind them out,” Behm said. “The guys behind me scored me, so it was just a good game from the guys.”

Everything seems to be clicking for the Saddleback Bobcats as the season begins to wind down. An impressive team batting average of over .300, a stellar team earned run average of under 4.27 and a near perfect fielding percentage of over .950 seems to be the recipe for victory. 

The Bobcats finished the season strong and head into the CCCAA playoffs firing on all cylinders and are playing with a lot of confidence right now. The CCCAA playoffs begin on May 9 and Saddleback looks to keep their momentum going just in time for the postseason.

Updated on May 19 at 11:17 a.m. to correct date of Saddleback vs Fullerton game