By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
MISSION VIEJO — College of the Canyons scored six unanswered runs, all after the sixth inning, to claw out a 9-6 road victory at Saddleback College on Saturday, tying the season opening-series at a game apiece.
Canyons (1-1) had previously dropped a 7-5 affair to Saddleback on Friday in what was a rematch of last May’s 3C2A Southern California Regional Final between the two programs. The Cougars and Bobcats have now met seven times dating back to the start of the 2023 season with Canyons playing to a 3-4 record during that span.
Saddleback (1-1) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after three innings before the Cougars’ bats finally came alive during a three-run fourth inning. Jayden Steinhurst‘s RBI single brought in Colin Yeaman for the first run. Hudson Story also scored on the play after an outfield error by the Bobcats aided his process. Later, it was Jake Schwartz with a base hit to bring around Steinhurst at 4-3.
In the seventh, it was Steinhurst who answered the call once again with a two-out single that plated Charlie Rocca. From there Schwartz added to the attack with a two-run single and Evan Jaquez rounded out the scoring with an RBI single of his own, giving COC a 7-6 advantage.
The Cougars pushed across an unearned run in the eighth when Charlie Rocca came around to score on a passed ball. Later in the inning, Yeaman made his way home on a wild pitch to make it a 9-6 final score.
JP Caire was solid throughout his three innings of relief work to preserve the victory and earn his first save of the season.
Oscar Patron started the game and lasted the first three innings for COC, allowing four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks, alongside three strikeouts. Harish Balachondron and Luke Lemmond both made appearances in relief of Patron. Lemmond (1-0) eventually earned the win after going 1 and 1/3 innings allowing one run on a hit and a walk, with a pair of strikeouts.
Saddleback utilized six relievers in support of starter Dylan Blakey who also tossed just the first three frames but finished with six strikeouts. Jack Wade (0-1) eventually took the loss for the Bobcats.
– JP Caire – S (1), 3 IP, BB, H, 2 K
– Charlie Rocca — 2-for-6, 2B, 2 R
– Jake Schwartz — 2-for-5, R, 3 RBI
– Jayden Steinhurst — 2-for-4, BB 2B, 2 RBI
– Colin Yeaman — 2-for-2, 3 BB, 3 R
The Cougars are scheduled to take the field Thursday, Feb. 1, for a home contest vs. Ventura College. First pitch will be at 2 p.m.
Canyons then travels to Allan Hancock College at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3.