BAKERSFIELD — Only seven times in 44 games this season did Orange Coast College baseball Coach John Altobelli have to address his players after a loss. But when it came time to speak from the heart after being eliminated from the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championship on Saturday, the words he delivered to his team were as obvious as they were true.
"I told them that we loved them," Altobelli said of the aftermath of a 5-4 defeat in 12 innings to Rio Hondo in the four-team, double-elimination tournament at Bakersfield Community College.
The loss, combined with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Sierra on Friday, ended OCC's season and detonated what had been one of the most talented and successful Pirates rosters ever assembled.
No fewer than nine Pirates have already made commitments to four-year college programs, and likely a few more will be accept invitations offered by four-year recruiters. A handful of Pirates figure to be selected by Major League teams in the June draft.