History of Saddleback Baseball
Under the direction of head coach Jack Hodges, the Saddleback College baseball program has become one of the most desirable locations to play for young baseball talent. Nestled in the shadows of the Modjeska mountain range, yet just five miles to the ocean, Saddleback has the weather, facilities, staff, and nearby amenities to satisfy a wide range of outside interests that student-athletes have while attending college.
Saddleback participates in the Orange Empire Conference, recognized nationally as probably the top community college conference in the nation. While most conferences in Southern California usually send two or three teams to participate in the post-season, the Orange Empire Conference often sends five of its eight teams to the post-season. Rosters throughout professional baseball, including the minor leagues and the major league, are dotted with players who have travelled through the Orange Empire Conference.
Coach Hodges and his staff have worked hard to improve the baseball stadium each year and that extra work is often noted by visiting fans, players, and coaches. The hard work and dedication carries over into the play of the team. Saddleback reached the community college state championship game in 2003 and 2004, facing the same conference foe both seasons. The Gauchos finished as state runners-up in 2003 and came back the following year to win the state championship (2004).
Win 450...February 18, 2006
In the first game of a doubleheader vs. Cabrillo College, the Gauchos come away with an 11-10 victory. Centerfielder Matt Spotanski and First Baseman Pat Ferguson each go 4 for 5 in the game to lead a 16 hit Gaucho attack. Outfielder Sean Rooney (triple and double), Outfielder Danny Morrow, Shortstop Jon Townsend, and Designated Hitter Jake Miller each collect two hits in the game. Freshman righthander J.T. Heaps comes on in relief to gain credit for the win. Former Major League pitchers Andy Messersmith (Dodgers and Angels) and Randy Kramer (Pirates and Angels) were the head coach and pitching coach respectively for the Cabrillo ballclub.
Win 425...February 9, 2005
Starter Matt Kucera pitches five strong innings, and the Gauchos score five runs in the first inning highlighted by Kyle Walton’s 2-run double, as Saddleback beats Los Angeles Harbor, 13-3. Walton has three hits and three RBIs. Outfielders Montana Dye and Danny Morrow collect two hits each.
Win 400...February 8, 2004
Eric Sheridan (5 RBIs), Jordan Struble, Keahi Kapana (4 RBIs), and Kyle Walton each collect three hits as the Gauchos mounted a 19 hit attack in defeating Cabrillo 18-4. Kapana also hits two home runs. Eric Brock pitches 5 innings for the win.
Win 375...April 1, 2003
Saddleback scores 7 runs in the top of the ninth to defeat Cypress College 9-8. Paul Wilson’s single in the ninth drives home Jordan Struble with the winning run to give the Gauchos the victory. Jeff Scuderi, Rob Johnson, and Keahi Kapana each have three hits to spearhead a 15 hit attack. Reid Santos pitches the final 1 2/3 innings to get credit for the win.
Win 350...May 10, 2002
(So. Cal Playoffs) Saddleback-4, Los Angeles City –0. Aaron Swick pitches seven strong innings of shutout baseball as the Gauchos win this first round game in the playoffs. Swick walked one and gave up only two hits. Eric Perugini, Scott Cheo, and Josh Behrens each collect two hits in the game.
Win 325...February 10, 2002
Saddleback-5, Palomar-4. Nick Lentine and Blair Lucas ignite a 5-run 6th inning as the Gauchos defeat the Comets. Nick and Blair each collect two hits in the come-from-behind victory. Jud Richards, Josh Behrens, and David Parker also had RBI singles in the inning. Josh Hunhoff pitches five innings of one-run relief, giving up two hits and striking out six.
Win 300...April 12, 2001
Saddleback defeats Long Beach City 12-4 in the second round of the College of the Sequoias Tournament in Visalia. Isaac Harbottle gets the win with 5 shutout innings in relief of fellow Hawaiian Kaleo Lopez. Harbottle did not walk a batter, giving up only 3 hits and striking out 4. Outfielder Chris Mash was 4-5, with a home run and double, along with 4 RBIs. Fellow outfielders Marcus Wyatt and Vinnie Valiente each contribute two hits.
Win 275...April 12, 2001
Jeff LaRue went 4-4, including a home run and two doubles, as the Gauchos defeat Fullerton College 8-7 in 10 innings. Vinnie Valiente goes 3-5 including two doubles. Ryan Cheo also collects two hits. Beau Kemp (now with the Minnesota Twins), gets the win with two innings of shutout relief, striking out five.
Win 250...March 18, 1999
Saddleback beats Fullerton College 13-3. Paul Wurts goes 6 strong innings for the victory, giving up four runs and five hits, while striking out seven.
Win 225...February 18, 1998
Nick Punto, Kirk Bolling (five RBIs), and Levi Groomer each collected three hits as the Gauchos defeat San Diego Mesa, 11-4. Bolling hit two home runs, and Groomer contributed one. Jason Marion also had two hits and two RBIs. Pat Versluis pitched 5 strong innings, giving up no runs, two hits, and striking out nine.
Win 200...May 9, 1997
The Gauchos defeat Glendale College 8-1 in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs. Kekoa Colon pitches a complete game four hitter, walking two and striking out 10. The Gauchos go on to win the Southern California Regional and qualify for the State Tournament in Fresno.
Win 150...February 9, 1996
Dom Lombardi went 4-5, Tavares Comeaux drove in five, and Paul Day, Jon Lauderdale, Danny Rivas, Greg Ferrell, and Comeaux, each collected two hits as Saddleback defeats Golden West 14-5 behind 7 strong innings by righthander Ryan McDermott (no runs and two hits).
Win 100...February 19, 1994
Saddleback travels to Hawaii and defeats NAIA four year school Hawaii Pacific University 6-3. Darin Mai pitches 6 1/3 innings of hitless relief striking out seven to gain the win. David Biddinger had two hits and two RBIs. Hawaii product Lorne Rosas' key seventh inning single plated two runs to help the Gauchos pull away. The Gauchos defeated HPU in four of the five games in the series. Their only loss was a 15-13 slugfest.Two doubles by Mike Cole in the first and third innings were key hits in leading Saddleback to a 12-5 win over Riverside College. His two RBI double in the first inning staked Saddleback to an early 2-0. His third inning RBI double broke a 3-3 tie. The Gauchos added three runs in the fifth, two more in the seventh, and three in the ninth to insure the win. Jeff Senters' single in the seventh drove in two runs and helped break open a close game. Josh Brayley pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief of starter D.J. Leffler to gain credit for the win. He allowed two hits and struck out three. Shevis Shima and Cole each collected three hits on the day. Taylor Loop and Craig Stringham paired hits for the Gauchos.
Win 50...February 13, 1993
Saddleback-15, Contra Costa-0. Cade Gaspar throws 5 shutout innings for the victory. Wade Jackson, Justin Drizos, Mitchell Pang, Bo Haley, Rich Kleckner, and Ted Wilkes each collect two hits to spark the Gauchos 24 hit attack. Saddleback goes on to win this tournament played at American River College in Sacramento.
Win 1...February 2, 1990
In Coach Hodges’ debut as the head coach for the Gauchos, Jason Kirrer scores on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth as Saddleback edges Moorpark 8-7 in the season opener for both teams. The Gauchos trail 7-1 before scoring seven runs in the last two innings. Neil Carter has a pinch hit RBI single, Jason Thompson has an RBI single, and Buster Nietzke hits a game tying sacrifice fly in the eighth. Lefthander Pat Norville allows one hit over the final two frames for the victory.