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Grieving OCC pitcher delivers

Community College Baseball

Thompson, whose step-sister died a week ago, works into the eighth to help Pirates blank Bulldogs and advance.

May 07, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

COSTA MESA — Heather Faith Beyer liked baseball and she liked to celebrate performance. On Saturday at Orange Coast College, Pirates pitcher Chad Thompson produced a performance that his late step-sister would have thoroughly enjoyed.

Just four days after Thompson attended a service at Newport Mesa Church for Beyer, who died April 30 after a 15-month battle with breast cancer, the 6-foot-8 freshman right-hander pitched arguably his best game of the season in a 3-0 win.

The victory over Allan Hancock (20-18) wrapped up a best-of-three sweep in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs, allowing the Pirates (30-8) to advance to next week's super regionals.

The Pirates, the No. 4 seed in Southern California, begin a four-team Super Regional Friday at Santa Ana. OCC will open against No. 7-seeded Santa Barbara (24-15), which defeated Riverside twice Saturday to win its best-of-three regional.

Santa Ana (26-13), the No. 3 seed that won the Orange Empire Conference over second-place OCC, plays No. 8-seeded Cerritos (24-14) in the other half of the double-elimination Santa Ana Super Regional.

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Thompson who missed two practices earlier this week to be with his family, allowed three hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing as a Pirate. Thompson, now 4-0, struck out six and walked three, before tiring under the burden of a season-high 111 pitches, not to mention an emotional week.

"I pitched for her, I pitched for myself and I pitched for the team," said the soft-spoken Thompson, a former El Toro High blue-chip prospect who missed nearly two years before returning this season from Tommy John surgery. "I didn't have my best stuff, but I pitched with what I had."

Thompson said he knew Beyer, 27 at the time of her passing, since he was 6 years old and that he and the former member of the Angel Strike Force — a spirit squad for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — who also coached cheerleaders at Newport Harbor and Tesoro high schools, were close.

"It feels nice," Thompson said of his strong pitching effort, which combined with Jed Vandernaald and Josh Evans became the Pirates' second shutout of the season. It was the first shutout in 34 games for OCC.

"I wasn't worried [about Thompson] so much mentally as I was physically with his arm," OCC Coach John Altobelli said. "He's still dealing with [arm strength]. It looked like he wasn't loosening up too well before the game."

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