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OCC comes back strong

Community College Baseball

Pirates, ranked No. 1 in So Cal, rally for a huge win at Santa Ana, ranked No. 2 in So Cal.

March 06, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Scott Smeltzer…)

SANTA ANA — The Orange Coast College baseball team almost went the entire month of February without losing a game. On the last Friday of the month, the Pirates lost for the first time.

Six days into March, the Pirates seemed on the brink of dropping their second game of the season. This one was a critical Orange Empire Conference game at Santa Ana College on Tuesday.

Coach John Altobelli believed his Pirates tried to do too much in the first two innings because of the magnitude of the game between the top two ranked teams in Southern California. The No. 1 team made uncharacteristic mistakes and fell behind by six runs to the defending conference champion Dons.

"I could still see them panicking a little bit," said Altobelli, who advised his players to focus on winning one inning at a time.

The Pirates responded by winning five of the final seven innings to rally for an 11-8 victory.

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The other two innings, OCC and the Dons played even. They aren't even in the conference standings.

The Pirates (16-1-1, 3-0 in conference) remained atop the conference with the comeback win. The Dons (12-4, 1-2) are two games back of OCC.

Taking the first game of a three-game series against Santa Ana was huge for the Pirates. Last season, they dropped two of three to the Dons.

The Pirates were on the verge of losing to Santa Ana again. That's until they slowed the game down and the offense exploded for 10 runs, half of the runs coming on three home runs.

Chris Carlson led the way. The left-handed batter blasted a two-run home run to right field in the fifth, cutting the deficit to 7-5.

Two innings later, Carlson almost belted another homer. The shot bounced off the right-field fence for a double, which brought in the go-ahead run.

The Pirates never looked back after taking an 8-7 lead, their first advantage of the day.

"This says we can come back from any game," said Carlson, who went four for five with four runs batted in and two runs.

Carlson and company had to fight back.

They were in business in the top of the first inning. The Pirates loaded the bases with one out, but only one run came across.

Right-hander Bruce Tolliver used 29 pitches to get out of the jam.

While OCC failed to take advantage of its base-loaded opportunity, the Dons didn't. They got some help as their first two batters reached base safely because of two infield errors by second baseman Justin Broussard.

The mistakes seemed to bother left-handed starter Eric Salcido, who gave up a single to load the bases.

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