Canyons Baseball Opens 2022 Season with Home Loss
By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons hosted Saddleback College in its 2022 season opener on Thursday, successfully returning to play after a nearly two-year hiatus before falling by a 17-5 final score.
The two teams played a clean first frame as Canyons starter Scott Bauman was able to navigate through the first inning and escape undamaged thanks to a 6-4-3 double play that ended the initial Saddleback threat.
The Bobcats (1-0) pushed across two runs in the second inning on a home run from Luc Stuka and run-scoring double from Brent Riddle.
Two more Saddleback runs in the third inning chased Bauman from the game, but it was the Bobcats' eight-run fourth that broke the game wide open and left Canyons dealing with a 12-0 deficit.
COC finally got on the board in the seventh when Ryan Camacho singled in Steven Gonzalez. The very next at-bat, Brandon Rainer brought home Andy Ambriz with another RBI-single making it a 16-2 ballgame.
Canyons (0-1) plated two more in the eighth after Ambriz drove home a run and Greg Hall followed with a two-run single, providing a bright spot in what was a disappointing result for the Cougars.
COC employed six pitchers in the game. Bauman (0-1) took the loss after surrendering four runs on four hits and a walk, but the remaining runs were spread among multiple relievers. Brandon Whiting pitched a clean ninth inning to close out the 17-5 affair.
Saddleback starter Connor Wilford (1-0) allowed just three hits in his six innings of work, with three strikeouts to collect the win.
Stuka ended the day 4-of-5 with four runs and three RBIs for the Bobcats, including the home run. Tyler DeClusin also turned in a four-hit day with two runs and a pair of RBIs.
Saddleback drew nine walks in the game and were aided by a pair of Canyons errors.
Ambriz finished the game 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI for the Cougars. Rainer was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Gonzalez ended with two walks and a pair of runs in the losing effort. Alex Ballesteros was 1-for-5 at the plate but made a number of sharp plays from the shortstop position.
Canyons had last played a regular season contest on March 9, 2020 just days before the postponement and eventual cancellation of the season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COC did not compete in 2021.
The Cougars and Bobcats will go at it again at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 in Mission Viejo. Spectators will not be allowed at the Saddleback venue.
— Photo by Mari Kneisel/COC Sports Information