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Pirates diggin' Visalia

April 24, 2000

Tony Altobelli

Some people might look at the City of Visalia as nothing more than

a quaint little town off of Highway 99; a rest stop on the way to Fresno;

a place to get some really killer antiques.

But if you're a member of the Orange Coast College baseball team, Visalia

is a magical oasis; a place of rebirth; a place where a batter can

magically get in a groove; a place where a pitcher can remember the good

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ol days of not getting lit up like a Christmas tree by the mighty clubs

of the Orange Empire Conference and its .323 combined batting average.

Such was the case during this past spring break, where the Pirates won

all four games they played with each game generating a new hero.

Game-one hero: Drew Parkin. The sophomore righty with the only ERA under

five, threw a complete game in the Pirates' 8-7 win over Bakersfield.

Parkin, known primarily for his work out of the bullpen, also has both of

the Pirates' complete games this year.

Game-two heroes: Ryan France and Sam Greco. France, whose had his share

of some rough plate appearances, came up huge in the Pirates' 11-5 win

over Reedley.

The sophomore third baseman went 4 for 5 with a home run, while Greco

improved to 2-0 with six strong innings of work.

Game-three heroes: Blair Havens and Chris Laws. A .330 hitter going into

the tournament, Havens went 4 for 4 with three RBIs, while the leadoff

hitter, Laws, went 4 for 6 in OCC's 14-1 pounding of San Diego City.

Honorable mention goes to Willie Keller, who had three doubles.

Game-four heroes: Robert Deven and Jason Reuss. Deven threw six strong

innings, limiting the College of the Sequoias to only three runs, which

in community college baseball is a pretty hard thing to accomplish.

Reuss, whose dad played....ah never mind, clubbed his 11th home run of the season, a three-run shot that gave the Pirates the breathing room

they needed for a 7-3 win.

Speaking of Reuss, he now has 26 home runs in his OCC career, putting him

nine dingers behind Joey James' all-time record of 35. But with only four

games remaining for the Pirates, James' hold on the the top spot should

remain intact.

Two of Reuss' former teammates, Ryan Clark and Brandon Thompson, who were

two of last year's "Big Three" for the Pirates, are holding their own in

limited action at the Division I level.

Clark is batting .273 (18 for 66) with six doubles, a home run and 10

RBIs for Long Beach State, while Thompson is hitting .233 with two home

runs and six RBIs with Cal State Northridge.

Over at Rice University, former OCC standout catcher John Lukin is the

everyday catcher for the Owls, who last year reached the NCAA World

Series.

Lukin is third on the team with a .283 batting average with a home run

and 15 RBI. He has also thrown out 12 would-be base stealers.

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