Rancho Santiago College continued to establish itself as the team to beat in the Orange Empire Conference with a 3-1 victory at Cypress Saturday.
It was the eighth consecutive victory and fourth of the week for Rancho Santiago (6-0 in conference and 16-3 overall). The Dons have a two-game lead over second-place Orange Coast.
Rancho Santiago scored three unearned runs and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the ninth for the victory.
The Dons led, 3-1, with one out in the ninth when reliever Tim MacNeil walked the last two men in the Cypress batting order, Mike Faddoul and Bob Long.
Richard Gonzales, Rancho Santiago's designated hitter, who had two RBI singles Saturday, replaced MacNeil.
Rey Hernandez, who went 4 for 5, bunted down the third-base line and beat Gonzales' throw to first, loading the bases.
Mike Parker then grounded a 2-0 pitch back to Gonzales, who threw to catcher Frank Appice to force Faddoul. Appice then threw to first to complete a game-ending double play.
"That was a great win," said Don Sneddon, Rancho Santiago coach. "(Starter Dave) Salcido did a great job for us filling in."
The victory went to Salcido (4-0), a sophomore right-hander who wasn't scheduled to start but took the place of David Tellers, who has been bothered by a sore right elbow. Tellers warmed up, but 25 minutes before game time, had to withdraw.
Salcido pitched seven-plus innings, giving up seven hits and one run. Hernandez doubled to open the eighth and Parker followed with a double to left-center. MacNeil replaced Salcido and got out of the inning.
Rancho Santiago got a run in the first when Appice bunted for a single, advanced to second on a throwing error by pitcher Erik Silvey (3-4) and scored on Gonzales' single.
In the third, Appice reached base on first baseman Rick Nen's fielding error, stole second and was sacrificed to third by Troy Barnhart. Gonzales followed with his second RBI single and Rancho Santiago led, 2-0.
Wade Clester stole third on a delay play and scored on catcher Parker's throwing error in the eighth to give Rancho Santiago a 3-0 lead.
In other Orange Empire Conference play:
Orange Coast College 15, Saddleback 11--Joey James hit a grand slam to cap a seven-run ninth and lead the Pirates (4-2, 17-6) to their first victory at home this season.
OCC opened the ninth trailing by 11-8 and scored its ninth run on a one-out RBI single by Mike Lujan. Jeff Borlette followed with a two-run single to tie the score.
Rex Peters was intentionally walked, and Ralph Ramirez reached base on an error to set up James, who had been walked twice and hit by pitches twice.
The home run was his seventh of the season and 27th of his career.
Saddleback had taken a 9-8 lead in the seventh on Mark Williamson's bases-empty homer.
Jim Foley (6-1) got the victory, and Ted Flores (0-1) took the loss.
Ralph Ramirez was 4 for 6 with a three-run home run and four runs scored for OCC. Keith Hatch was 2 for 5 with a single, triple and three RBIs, and Chris Latham was 2 for 3 with three runs scored and three RBIs for Saddleback (2-4, 8-10).
In the South Coast Conference:
Fullerton 8, Compton 4--Mark Kiefer (3-3) gave up three hits and had six strikeouts in five innings in the victory for the Hornets at Fullerton.
Reggie Brown went 2 for 5 with a triple and four RBIs, and Scott Einhorn went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Fullerton (11-2, 15-5-2). Andy Ruscitto raised his team-leading RBI total to 24 when he singled in Emmitt Cohick in the third.
Mt. SAC 9, Golden West 4--Pat Pabookian went 3 for 5 and scored two runs to lead Mt. San Antonio College (8-5, 15-5) at Golden West (5-8, 9-10).