Baseball Heads To State Championships After Outlasting Saddleback

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After splitting the first two games in the best-of-three Southern California Sectional Finals,  Mt. SAC Baseball edged past the Saddleback College Gauchos 3-2 in a decisive game three on Sunday, May 20.

The Mounties found themselves traveling to Saddleback College for all three games following consecutive victories in sweeps during the first two rounds of the postseason at Mazmanian Field.

Saddleback took a similar route to the Mounties, sweeping their way towards being two more wins from a trip to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships.

In game one on Friday, May 18, the Mounties struck first during the opening inning with Brandon Bradshaw smashing a two-run homer to left field.

Nic Sandoval added to the tally in the top of the second with a single through the left side that brought Dino Miranda home to put Mt. SAC up 3-0.

Mt. SAC Baseball pitcher Matt Garcia on the mound at Doug Fritz Field on Friday, May 18. Photo Credit: John Athan/SAC.Media

In the bottom of the inning, the Gauchos overcame a two out situation to score on three consecutive at-bats, tying the game 3-3.

From there, Saddleback’s Tanner Brubaker and Mt. SAC’s Mason Corneliussen pitched to a standstill through four innings until Alex Kent came on the mound for Brubaker in the seventh.

The Mounties were in a two out spot with runners on third and second when Michael Sandoval homered on Kent to right field for a 6-3 lead.

Ever resilient, the Gauchos brought themselves within a run of tying the game once more after scoring two runs off consecutive at-bats yet again in the bottom of the seventh.

Elijah Greene doubled to right center in the eighth to score Chris Sandberg, but Saddleback answered back in the bottom of the ninth, scoring another run with one out.

Ultimately, with the score at 7-6 and two outs away from claiming victory in game one on Saddleback’s home field, the Mounties locked it down defensively and put the Gauchos away for the day.

“We busted our ass the whole game. Our offense put a lot of runs up on the board against a very good pitcher. Hats off to them.” Mt. SAC pitcher Zach Bromstead said on the team’s performance after the game.

“These guys have totally stuck with it. We haven’t been rattled or fazed by one moment. They stay with it, they hang in there, they’ve been really tough,” Mounties head coach John Knott said. “It was just a huge number of guys contributing, we had a number of quality at-bats and guys that didn’t have good at-bats didn’t tank on defense. They were pulling for their teammates and it was just awesome to see.”

Game two on Saturday, May 19 told a different story despite Mt. SAC’s bats coming on fire in the bottom of the third to take an early 3-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, Connor Glenn doubled to right field for the Gauchos, bringing a run in before reaching home on Mike Jarvis‘ single to further cut into the lead.

Mt. SAC Baseball pitcher Matt Garcia versus Saddleback College’s Willie Lajoie at Doug Fritz Field on Friday, May 18. Photo Credit: John Athan/SAC.Media

Saddleback struck again in the fifth, tying the game until Greene scored in the bottom of the inning off Bradshaw’s at-bat to keep the Mounties up 4-3.

All expectations this would finish anything like game one’s constant back-and-forth slugfest were completely shattered in the eighth inning, when Saddleback scored an unprecedented nine runs to retake the lead at 12-4.

Saddleback added one more run in the ninth for good measure before tying the series, while the Mounties got set to return to the home of the Gauchos for the climactic game three the following day.

“Well you have to flush and move on. Tomorrow is winner-take-all, it’s our season on the line. You absolutely have to turn the page; that’s the benefit of winning that first game,” Knott said on the team’s mindset heading into game three.

Mt. SAC Baseball pitcher Zach Bromstead at Doug Fritz Field on Friday, May 18. Photo Credit: John Athan/SAC.Media

Spencer Heinsius tried keeping the Gauchos’ momentum alive from the previous game with a solo home run in the bottom of the second, but Jacob Kampen‘s outstanding performance on the mound for the Mounties proved to be too hard for Saddleback to break through.

In the fifth, Nic Sandoval singled to centerfield and moved to second when Ryon Knowles was hit by a pitch. This set up Michael Sandoval to launch a three-run homer over right field, silencing Saddleback and taking a 3-1 lead.

The Gauchos challenged the Mounties in the bottom of the ninth with Jordan Fitzgerald hitting a double with one out to bring in a run and cut into Mt. SAC’s lead, 3-2.

However, the Mounties remained poised and determined as they have been all season, and with two outs separating them from a chance at glory, Mt. SAC’s defense secured the series win.

Mt. SAC now advances to the CCCAA State Championships for the first time in over 50 years, which will be hosted by Fresno City College.

“It’s what we’ve been playing for since the fall, in the weight room, practicing. It’s what we play for. I’m really hyped to dogpile in Fresno with all my teammates. It’s going to be fun,” Bromstead said.

The Mounties are one of four teams battling it out and will take on the number one seed from the north, San Joaquin Delta College, on Saturday, May 26, with first pitch at 6 p.m.

“They’re going to be hungry, they’re a quality club. We just have to stay with it, make some improvements and next man up,” Knott said.