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Pirates collect co-title

Community College Baseball

OCC, on six-game win streak, tops Golden West to tie Santa Ana for Orange Empire Conference crown.

April 24, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

HUNTINGTON BEACH — After an April 5 loss at Saddleback College left the Orange Coast baseball team 9-7 in Orange Empire Conference play, Pirates Coach John Altobelli decided it was time to make a point with his players.

Make that a power point.

Altobelli, in his 22nd season at the helm, broke out a 5-year-old power-point presentation made after the Pirates captured the 2009 state title. The visual compilation illustrated how that team came through great adversity, including the death of then-redshirt catcher Jourdan Watanabe, to claim the program's first state crown since 1980.

"After that video, we haven't lost a game, knock on wood," said Altobelli after his team won its sixth straight, 8-3, at Golden West on Thursday to earn a share of the program's fourth OEC title in 10 seasons.

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Santa Ana rallied from two three-run deficits to win, 9-7, at Cypress College on Thursday to remain tied atop the standings with Orange Coast. But the Pirates (27-9, 14-7 in conference), by virtue of beating Santa Ana in two of three conference matchups, will earn the seeding advantage for the upcoming Southern California Regional playoffs.

OCC, ranked No. 2 in Southern California and No. 7 in one national poll, lost to Cypress in its conference opener and was 3-3 through six OEC games. But it lost consecutive conference games only once — immediately before the current winning streak — and closed by dominating its final six foes by a combined score of 59-9.

"We grinded it out," Altobelli said of the program's 18th conference championship. "We had to share it [with Santa Ana], but we're still champions, any way you slice it. And we'll take it."

The Pirates took control of a tight game with a six-run fifth inning Thursday to pull away from the Rustlers (15-21, 6-15).

Freshman left fielder Robert Longtree capped the rally with a two-out, bases-loaded triple that almost became an inside-the-park grand slam. Longtree appeared to slide past the tag on the relay from the center-field fence, but he was called out, as OCC settled for an 8-1 lead.

OCC sophomore starting pitcher Jacob Hill worked six solid innings, allowing six hits and one run to earn the victory and improve to 10-0.

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