But the designated home team rallied for four in the ninth, then won it on a one-out, walk-off, solo home run by freshman left fielder Chris Carlson to spark an emotional postgame celebration.
The win also put the Pirates, into Saturday's winner's bracket game at 11 a.m. against host Santa Ana (28-12), which defeated Cerritos, 12-3, in the first game of the double-elimination tournament Friday.
Santa Ana won two of three against OCC this season to edge the Pirates for the Orange Empire Conference title.
OCC never lost its edge against the Vaqueros (24-16), who appeared quite at home in the program's inaugural appearance in a super regional.
Santa Barbara leadoff hitter Robert Vickers, who came in with 11 runs batted in in 27 games and 96 at-bats, belted hits his first three trips against OCC starter Ryan Doran, the middle blow a grand slam to open the scoring in the second inning. After Vickers doubled in two in the third, OCC Coach John Altobelli said he considered cutting his losses and going with lesser arms to save his best pitching for what would have been a long grind back from the loser's bracket.
"Their left-hander [starting pitcher Kylin Turnbull, who was drafted in the 30th round by the Chicago White Sox last year and came in with a 5-2 record, a 2.47 earned-run average and 92 strikeouts in 80 innings this season] was good," Altobelli said, knowing Turnbull had averaged just two earned runs allowed in his 11 previous starts. "I thought to myself 'I don't know if we're going to get six runs.'"
But Turnbull walked six to go with his seven strikeouts through seven innings and OCC sent 10 runners to the plate in a four-run fourth to reintroduce some suspense.