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OCC deep and talented in 2012

Community College Baseball

Pirates, ranked No. 4 in one national poll, take aim at their second state title in four years.

February 01, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

Vandernaald was 7-1 with one save in 54 innings last season, mostly in relief. But he, along with returning closer Josh Evans (seven saves, a 5-0 record and a 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in 2011) may have to impress Altobelli anew to earn their opportunities amid a deep corps of relievers.

Also among the bullpen candidates are Ryan Evans, a transfer from Salt Lake City Community College, UCI transfer Andrew Bynum, as well as freshmen Tyler Mitchell and Jimmy Grob.

Returners Brian O'Keefe and Ryan Boselo, an Estancia High product, may also add depth.

Whoever takes the mound figures to be backed by an explosive offense, similar to the one that hit .327 as a unit and averaged eight runs per game last season.

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Carlson, the only player to start every game last season, drove in 40 runs and scored a team-best 50 while hitting .345 after bouncing back from UCI. The left fielder, who has committed to New Mexico State, had 17 extra-base hits last season, including three home runs.

Garza, who missed half of last season with a wrist injury, finished with a .363 average in 80 at-bats. He drove in 12 runs and belted 11 doubles.

Garza, a left-handed hitter, is projected to share first base and designated hitter with sophomore returner Eilert Meyers (.286 with 10 RBIs in 56 at-bats last season), who bats right-handed.

Woodward, who hit .330 with 25 RBIs in 35 games as a freshman, has committed to continue his career at Fresno State. But he may have some competition from Oregon bounce-back Stefan Sabol, should Sabol be able to recover from a broken hamate bone that will sideline him indefinitely.

"[Sabol] is a big stick that we are losing," said Altobelli, who said the injury could keep him out anywhere from a month to the rest of the season. "He was going to be our three-hole hitter. He could play third base, the outfield or catcher."

Sophomore defensive whiz Blake Hugaert adds depth behind the plate.

Sophomore Joel Licon, a bounce-back from Loyola Marymount who was academically ineligible last season at OCC, is set to start at shortstop.

"I think he could be our sleeper MVP," Altobelli said. "He is going to be my pick to click. With all the big names we have this year, he's not big in stature. But he's a bulldog and I think he's going to have a great year for us."

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