Pirates back on track

Community College Baseball

OCC's Vandernaald steps up in relief at IVC to claim his fifth win, ending a two-game conference losing streak Tuesday.

March 15, 2011|By Barry Faulkner,

IRVINE — Like a good leading man, the Orange Coast College pitching staff refuses to be typecast.

But, despite a lack of clearly defined roles, the Pirates' pitching plot line thus far seems to offer the juiciest parts to its supporting cast. In the baseball vernacular: relievers.

Freshman right-hander Jed Vandernaald once again stepped from the bullpen into the spotlight to lead OCC to a 9-5 Orange Empire Conference victory at Irvine Valley on Tuesday.


Vandernaald, one of nine to have started at least one game for the Pirates (17-4, 3-3 in conference), allowed four hits and one run, while striking out seven in five innings to improve to 5-0.

Freshman Josh Evans recorded the final four outs for his fifth save, allowing starter Mike Smith (four earned runs, three hit batters, two walks, two hits and five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings to at least feel good about the end result.

"We're trying to get guys locked into roles right now," OCC Coach John Altobelli said of a 12-man mound corps that has fashioned a combined earned-run average of 3.58. "But it's hard, because we have so many guys who are helter-skelter. One day they look good, then …. Smith didn't look real sharp today and he looked really good out of the bullpen [fanning four in 2 1/3 innings in a 5-4 home loss Saturday to Santa Ana]."

Vandernaald has easily been the Pirate's most consistent performer on the bump. In 25 2/3 innings, he has allowed two earned runs, 24 hits and has struck out 22. His ERA is 0.70.

Smith, who made his fourth start of the season, second most on the staff behind only sophomore Ryan Doran's six, was staked to a 5-0 lead after OCC scored twice in the second inning and added three in the third.

Smith stranded three and struck out four in his first two innings, including fanning the side in the second. And, after a leadoff single in the third, he induced a grounder to shortstop Austin Wobrock that appeared destined to be a double play.

But after Wobrock tossed to second baseman Lance Chavez to get the lead runner, Chavez threw errantly to first. The miscue, though not among the Pirates' four errors, opened the door to a four-run rally. All four runs were charged to Smith.

"We had too many freebies on our part," Altobelli said of a defense that also turned in some sterling plays.

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