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Pirates hoping to bounce back

Community College Baseball

OCC will rely upon bounce-backs from four-year programs in 2014 baseball season.

January 28, 2014|By Barry Faulkner
  • David Wilson, a first-team All-Orange Empire Conference selection last season, was 4-2 with a team-best four saves and a 2.51 earned-run average last season for Orange Coast College.
David Wilson, a first-team All-Orange Empire Conference… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

For only the second time in the last six seasons, Orange Coast College failed to win at least 30 baseball games in 2013. So, in an effort to bounce back, veteran coach John Altobelli is returning to the formula that produced 36 victories and a trip to the four-team state championship tournament in 2012.

Like the 2012 team that claimed the Pirates' first outright Orange Empire Conference title since 1987, this year's squad will feature several players whose first stop out of high school was a four-year college program.

The talented, but well-traveled cast, known as bounce-backs, fill out nine roster spots for the Pirates, who will deploy most in crucial roles.

Cody Nulph, a sophomore who came from Pepperdine and has already committed to play next season at Auburn, will likely start at shortstop and hit third when the Pirates, coming off a 23-16 campaign in which they lost seven of their last nine and 14 of their last 25 after opening 12-2, open their season at home against nonconference visitor Palomar on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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Andrew Alvarez, another former Pepperdine recruit, is also expected to pitch and play first base in his sophomore season for the Pirates, before continuing his collegiate career at Houston Baptist.

Altobelli, in his 22nd year at the helm after recording his 500th career win last season, said David Hill, a sophomore right-handed bounce-back from Long Beach State, will open the season as the team's No. 1 starting pitcher, while sophomore Tommy Bell, relocated from the University of the Pacific, is expected to start in right field.

Behind the plate, a pair of bounce-backs — Collin Yelich from UNLV and committed to Sam Houston State, as well as Daniel Delaney from Fresno State and committed to Valparaiso — offer a potentially productive platoon at a position that has not been among the Pirates' leading producers in recent years.

"I think this team looks good and has a chance to go a long way, especially with our pitching," said Altobelli, who guided the 2009 squad to the school's first state crown since 1980.

In addition to Hill, whom Altobelli considers the team's leading professional prospect with a fastball in the low 90-mph range and a quality breaking ball, the mound corps will be led by sophomore David Wilson, a first-team All-Orange Empire Conference selection last season who worked primarily out of the bullpen.

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