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Community College Baseball: Pirates lacking flame

Saddleback pounds OCC, which has lost four straight for first time since 2010.

April 20, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — When it was suggested that a batting-glove bonfire may be in order after his Orange Coasts College baseball team fell, 9-1, to visiting Saddleback on Saturday to extend the Pirates' losing streak to four games, Coach John Altobelli said he doubted his squad could generate sufficient heat to fuel such a ceremony.

Seemingly the only sparks flying for the Pirates these days are the impassioned postgame speeches of coaches trying to ignite a flame under a group of players who are stumbling down the stretch.

On the heels of a 3-0 loss Thursday at Saddleback, in which Evan Manarino threw a six-hit shutout, OCC managed just four hits and an unearned run at home against freshman right-hander Tyler Brashears. Half of its 10 hits in the last two games (all singles) have failed to leave the infield, and only twice in the last 21 innings has OCC advanced a runner past second base.

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Brashears, who signed originally with UC Irvine, before encountering academic issues, allowed just four hits, all singles, to post his fourth complete game and improve to 7-2. He retired OCC in order seven times and set down the first 10 he faced without having a ball hit out of the infield.

Six OCC pitchers allowed 14 hits, including a three-run home run by Mitchell Holland that spearheaded a five-run seventh inning to significantly widen a 2-1 Gauchos lead.

The victory, the eighth in the last 11 games for the visitors, improved the Gauchos, ranked No. 6 in Southern California, to 23-11, 11-8 in the Orange Empire Conference.

OCC (21-13, 9-10), ranked No. 2 in Southern California, has lost four straight for the first time since April of 2010. The Pirates are in fifth place with two conference games left, but remain hopeful of gaining one of 18 playoff bids. Only conference champions are guaranteed spots, as the rest of the 18-team Southern California field, in which seeds No. 15 through No. 18 square off in a playoff game to provide the final two teams in four, four-team regionals, will be filled out with at-large entries.

Ratings Percentage Index, which rewards teams that play more difficult schedules, is the leading criteria for at-large consideration. This bodes well for OCC.

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