Bested by Cypress in its three games series, Coast returned to action against the (16-5) Saddleback Gauchos.
The Gauchos got hot early in pre-pandemic play, dropping just three games of its opening 16 contests. By the time conference play rolled around though the Gauchos were given more of a test but still prevailing to a (3-2) start.
Similar to the Chargers, the Gauchos had made it clear that it could hit, launching 16 conference leading home runs in its 21 games before the pandemic.
In the sims series, game one of the series pitted sophomores Jack Noble and Hunter Ash against one another. The latter played for the Gauchos and the pair had excellent seasons, both posting a sub 3.00 ERA through their first three starts.
It didn’t take long though for the game’s first runs with Saddleback freshman Nation Wood sending a two-run shot over the fence on a two-out pitch in the bottom of the first. Wood proved to be a deadly hitter during the season, leading the Gauchos in batting average, on base percentage and slugging.
In the fourth inning the Pirates responded, picking up a run on a clutch two-out single by freshman Logan Jackson, who finished the game 2-4 with the one RBI. The bottom half of the fourth saw the Gauchos score another three runs, as the heart of its order racked up hits against Noble.
Scoring one more run in the fifth, the Pirates would ultimately go on to lose 5-2. Hunter Ash was dealing striking out 12 Pirates batters in an eight inning effort that saw him give up two runs on five hits.
Through seven innings, game two of the series looked as if it would finish almost identical to the first contest. Saddleback was cruising along with another 5-2 lead thanks in part to sophomore Matt Comnos’s excellent performance in which he allowed just four hits, and the two runs.
With Comnos out of the game the Pirates erupted, scoring seven runs in the eighth inning to take a 9-5 lead. The Pirates had nine hits in the contest following Comnos being relieved, and all nine starters reached base safely at least once. It was an improved performance and an inspiring comeback to this point.
Disaster from the bullpen struck the Pirates though once more, as the Gauchos put up an embarrassing 10 runs on five hits, and seven walks in the bottom of the eighth.
Three more runs would come across for the Pirates in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to pull the Pirates out of the pit it had sunk into following the eighth inning. For the second time, the Gauchos found victory picking up game two by a score of 15-12.
It had to have been a crushing blow for the Pirates who out-hit Saddleback and would have surely felt like it was in position to win once it found a four run lead going into the bottom of the eighth.
Battered and bruised by the demoralizing loss in game two, the Pirates suffered its third straight defeat at the hands of the Gauchos. Hitting the ball wasn’t the issue for the Pirates once more, as it closed the contest with 10 hits, just one short of Saddleback’s mark. Instead it struggled to bring runners across the plate, stranding five, and bowing out by a score of 7-3.
Logan Jackson had a remarkable performance even in a losing effort, picking up three hits including a double, one RBI and a walk in four trips to the plate.
Falling victim to a sweep, the Pirates now find themselves in a peculiar position at (15-14), and (6-8) in conference play. A push for the top spot now seems impossible, but the team continues to show an effort even if at times it seems to go unrewarded.