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Pirates add to streak

Community College Baseball

OCC wins eighth in a row, is 24-2-1, and is positioned to be one of school's all-time best teams.

March 29, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — As the outs dwindled in Orange Coast College's 7-5 Orange Empire Conference baseball victory over visiting Santa Ana on Thursday, a conversation in the press box began about who might be the Pirates' hero of the day.

After a few moments, it was agreed that there was no singular standout, but rather a confluence of contribution from up and down the lineup, as well as on the mound.

Sophomore starting pitcher Keegan Yuhl worked seven solid innings to earn his state-leading eighth win in eight decisions. But he allowed four runs, all earned, on nine hits and was hardly his usual dominant self.

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Freshman right fielder Bijan Rademacher and freshman second baseman Justin Broussard both had two hits and one run batted in, their final two RBIs proving to be the difference in the seventh inning. Both doubled and Broussard scored one run.

But four other Pirates had one hit, one run and one RBI apiece, while two more scored runs. And the hosts (24-2-1, 11-1 in conference), ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 1 in one national poll, also combined to play errorless defense, including a game-ending double play.

Sophomore Ryan Evans allowed just one hit in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to collect his team-leading third save.

But as it is becoming increasingly clear, the totality of OCC's excellence this season has most to do with, well, its totality.

The Pirates extended their winning streak to a season-best eight games. They began the season with six straight wins, before playing to a 14-inning tie. They then reeled off seven straight wins before experiencing their first loss. The only other loss, at home to Fullerton on March 8, is one of few examples of fallibility as Coach John Altobelli continues to approach some rarefied air in the 64-year history of the program.

OCC's current winning percentage of .907 would break the school single-season record of .862, accomplished by the 1957 squad that finished 25-4. That 1957 team won the last of five straight conference championships.

And while Altobelli, in his 20th season at the helm, has posted five 30-win seasons, including a school-best 37 wins by the 2009 state champions, both of his previous conference crowns (2009 and 2005) have been shared.

With nine conference games remaining, OCC holds a four-game lead over both Santa Ana and Riverside. And four of the remaining nine games will be against Irvine Valley and Fullerton, both of which are one game ahead of last-place Saddleback.

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