Big second inning is key to Gauchos victory

Saddleback's sophomore catcher Dallas Dey (No. 3)watches his hit during Thursday's game against Cypress College. The Gauchos are currently tied with Cypress for second place in the Orange Empire Conference. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

Gauchos sophomore catcher Dallas Dey (No. 3) watches his hit during Thursday’s game against Cypress College. Saddleback is currently tied with Cypress for second place in the Orange Empire Conference. (Nick Nenad/Lariat)

The Saddleback College baseball team moved back into a tie with Cypress College for second place in the Orange Empire Conference by winning a wild game Thursday night at Doug Fritz Field. The Gauchos beat the Chargers, 10-8, improving their overall record to 18-5 and their conference record to 6-2.

Sophomore outfielder Kyle Candalla and sophomore designated hitter Jared Donahoe led the way for Saddleback. Candalla had three hits, including two doubles and finished up with three RBIs

“I just stuck with my game plan, that was the biggest thing for me,” Candalla said. “I mean, it was such a team effort … we had some clutch hits, clutch at-bats and especially for [Daniel Endsley] comin’ in to finish it up, that was huge for us.”

Donahoe went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple, his second of the season. He also improves his season average to .400, second only on the Gauchos to freshman outfielder Andrew Wilson, who knocked his up to .410 after Thursday.

Donahoe explained after the game that even though Saddleback played good, they have to be aware of the rest of the teams in their conference.

“The team we played today, they’re gonna battle, every team in our conference is going to put battle and you don’t what’s going to happen,” Donahoe said. “You don’t ever want to coast, you never want to give up.”

The first inning went by slow, but that was no indicator of what was going to happen next. In the top of the second inning, Cypress got a run, an RBI single by freshman catcher Nathan Rodriguez, to take a 1-0 lead. Saddleback came out firing in their next at-bats, scoring eight runs and making it seem like the game would end up in a blow-out.

The Chargers came back though to score five more runs in the top of the third inning, making it a game again. Saddleback head coach Sommer McCartney thought the five-run inning was ‘hard to take,” but was pleased with his team’s resilience to eventually win the game.

“Our motto is always ‘play 27 outs’ and, yeah, that kind of sucked giving up those five runs, but you gotta stick with the whole mentallity of trying to win every inning and we found a way to get a couple more [runs],” McCartney said.

After the first three innings, the game settled down a bit. Cypress got close, but they never were able to make a full comeback. The Chargers got a run in the top of the fifth inning, but the Gauchos countered with a run of their own in the top of the sixth inning to put the score at 9-7.

In the seventh inning, the teams once again traded runs, making the score 10-8 in favor of Saddleback. Freshman pitcher Daniel Endsley came into the game for the Gauchos in the seventh, pitched three shutout innings to end the ball game and got his second save of the season.

McCartney praised the bullpen after the game, but added that he would like to see his starter, freshman Jackson Rees, do a good job.

“Our bullpen did a great job tonight and we found a way to get a couple of extra runs and it ended up being the difference,” McCartney said. “”We went through four pitchers tonight and we’re gonna need [Jackson Rees] to really step up on Saturday.”

As McCartney mentioned, Saddleback will play the rubber game of their three-game series against the Chargers at Cypress on Saturday at 12 p.m. The winner of that game will be in sole possession of second place in the OEC and could possibly be in a tie for first place, depending on if Fullerton College loses their game against Orange Coast College.