Saddleback “Gauchos” defeat Riverside “Tigers” baseball team 3-2 in Mission Viejo

Saddleback "Gauchos" first baseman Trevor Whyte


This afternoon I joined two colleagues and attended a college baseball game being held at the Saddleback Community College field in Mission Viejo. You did need a windbreaker today as it was somewhat overcast and cool. Our guess is that it was in the high 50’s and windy with the American flag blowing from right field to left field the entire game.
When you have visitors coming to town or simply have an afternoon off there is no better form of family entertainment then taking them to a baseball game. In this case the admission cost is “free.” No, that is not a typo. There is “no charge” for attending these games on the Saddleback Community College campus. Furthermore we sat within 30 feet to the left of home plate. As I looked at the crowd there were only 40 visitors at today’s game.

I have not set foot on this field since 1997 when our city council and former city manager gambled in a “stealth” activity by bringing the Long Beach Riptide, a minor league team from Long Beach, to this very same baseball field using redevelopment funds. At that time they changed their name to the Vigilantes. That failed experiment, which originally was to cost us a minimum of $6 million dollars for a 4,500 seat stadium, eventually cost our city $1.5 million dollars with the Vigilantes sneaking out without paying their bills.

Fast forward to today where “Saddleback College’s baseball facilities are some of the finest in Southern California.  Two years ago the playing surface received a $600,000 renovation by the same company that did Angel stadiumThe surface has been described as one of the best in all of California.  The already lighted facility also had four new batting cages added–to bring the total to six and, a nine-station soft toss area was added last year.  A new press box, a new office equipped with state-of-the-art video analysis equipment and new storage buildings were also added last year.” 

As we watched the Riverside “Tigers” and the host Saddleback “Gaucho’s” warm up I noted the current dimensions of the field. It is 328 feet down the right field line, 400 feet to dead center and left/center is marked as 373 feet.

Coming into today’s game Saddleback was fifth and Riverside was seventh of eight teams in the Orange Empire Conference standings behind leader Orange Coast.

After a rocky start, in which 6’4″ Gaucho starter Robby Ross, a sidearm throwing left-hander, gave up a run in the first inning, he settled down and was in a pitching duel with Tiger starter 5’11” Benji Anaya. Coming into this game Robby had a 3.24 ERA with a won loss record of 5-2.

The Gauchos tied the game with an unearned run in the fifth inning only to see the Tigers score a run in the top of the sixth.  After shutting down the Tigers in the top of the 7th the Gauchos again tied the score in the bottom of the seventh as we had to depart.
My box score, at the end of 7 innings, read: Tigers 2 runs, seven hits, one error with the Gaucho’s having 2 runs, 5 hits and one error.

UPDATE from one of our colleagues who stayed to the end.

Gaucho first baseman Trevor Whyte hit a home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the 8th inning giving Saddleback their first lead of the game. The Gauchos changed pitchers bringing in Scott Myers who closed out the ninth to earn the save. Congratulations Gauchos!

The two remaining Saddleback home games are as follows:
April 21st Vs Cypress at 2 p.m.
April 23rd Vs Santa Ana at 2 p.m.
They also have an away game in Santa Ana on April 25th at 12:00 p.m.

Beyond that their home schedule will be based on their reaching the OEC Tournament and SoCal Regional games
For sports information simply call (949) 582-4490

About Larry Gilbert