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Pirates rally for big win

OCC scores six in eighth to erase 9-5 deficit and pull within a game of Santa Ana in Orange Empire Conference.

April 12, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli didn't like the vibe from the start. And over the first seven innings of the Pirates' final Orange Empire Conference meeting with first-place Sana Ana, there wasn't much to alter his uneasiness.

But, as this team usually does, it found a way to leave Altobelli smiling when the dust had settled on a dramatic 11-9 OCC victory that helps keep its conference title hopes alive.

The Pirates (26-6, 12-5 in conference), ranked No. 1 in Southern California, scored six runs on eight hits in the eighth inning to reverse a 9-5 deficit and win for the first time in three meetings against the No. 3-ranked Dons (20-9, 13-4).

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Freshman Mitch Maltby worked 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn his first collegiate win and sophomore Ryan Doran, who started and lost Saturday's 5-1 verdict at Santa Ana, got the final two outs for his second save. Doran also started and lost the first meeting with the Dons this season.

The late pitching success for OCC was in sharp contrast to the work of its first four hurlers, all of whom gave up at least two runs, as the visitors scored at least one run in six straight innings after a scoreless first.

"The pitching was absolutely horrible," Altobelli said. "We had eight walks and three hit batters. Those are just too many freebies to give the first-place team. You can't do that. But the nice thing was, the guys kept hanging in, kept hanging in, kept hanging in, then all of a sudden, bang, bang, bang."

The big bang of which Altobelli spoke came in the eighth inning, when six singles, two doubles and two sacrifice flies helped OCC complete its second remarkable comeback in the last 17 days.

OCC rallied for five runs in the ninth to tie Cypress on March 26, then won, 7-6, in 11 innings.

Third baseman Colton Hamill and shortstop Austin Wobrock began the rally with singles and Slater Davies, filling in for injured sophomore second baseman Zach Chavez, who is sitting out with a bulging disc, doubled to left-center field to drive in a run and bring the potential tying run to the plate.

Center fielder Scott Cho, the first hitter to face Ruben Orosco, a UC Irvine bounce-back who had started and won the first two games against OCC, plated Wobrock with a scoring fly ball to left.

Left fielder Chris Carlson followed with a single and right fielder Matt Moynihan looped a hustle double to left-center field to pull the Pirates within 9-8.

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