COSTA MESA -- A late-inning rally in Game 1, followed by a seven-run frame in Game 2 enabled the Orange Coast College baseball team to sweep a doubleheader and earn a three-game sweep over visiting Cuesta College on Saturday at Wendell Pickens Field.
The Pirates (3-0) rallied, then hung on for a 3-2 win over the Cougars in the opener, then wrapped the series up with a 12-6 victory in the nightcap.
It was a hard-fought pitchers' duel in the first game as OCC's Keegan Yuhl matched pitches with Cuesta righty Carson Aprato. Trailing 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth of this seven-inning game, the Pirates needed some clutch offense and they found it at just the right time.
Joel Licon walked to start the sixth and used his speed to score on a double to deep right-center off the bat of Chris Carlson. After a pop out, pinch-hitter Trent Woodward ripped a double to right, which scored Carlson and put the Pirates up 2-1. Pinch-runner Bijan Rademacher then stole third and one batter later, scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
That run proved huge for the Pirates as Cuesta (0-3) used a pair of walks and a fielding error to load the bases. But reliever Ryan Evans notched his first save when he overcame a run-scoring balk to retire the final two batters of the game.
Yuhl picked up the win after throwing six-plus innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits. The sophomore walked four and struck out six. Aprato took the hard-luck loss after allowing just five runs over five-plus innings, walking two and striking out two.
In the nightcap, OCC starter Eric Salcido struggled to get people out the conventional way, so he used the help of two pick-offs, one caught stealing and two runners retired at the plate to wiggle out of major damage early.
Rademacher was solid on both sides of the game. First on defense, he ended the Cougars' two-run first when he threw out Michael Nieporte at the plate when he tried to score on a single by Cody Lavalli. Nieporte tried to plow through Woodward at the plate, but the sophomore catcher held onto the ball, ending the inning as well as the afternoon for Nieporte, who was ejected for failing to slide at the plate.
Rademacher followed that defensive display with a one-out triple in the second, which led to OCC's first run, courtesy of an RBI-grounder by Eilert Meyers, making it 2-1.
Cuesta added to its lead in the fourth, making it 3-1, but with 12 base-runners through the first four innings, the game felt more lopsided than it was.
Those missed opportunities by the Cougars proved costly as the Pirates blew the game open with a seven-run fourth inning. A two-run home run by Rademacher, RBI-hits by Woodward, Ricky Navarro and Carlson and RBI-grounders by Boog Bowell and Manny Argomaniz gave OCC the lead for good.
In a game where several Pirate reserve players earned starts, all nine players had hits, all nine drove in runs and eight out of nine scored runs, showing the incredible depth of the OCC roster.
Jed Vandernaald came in and helped preserve Coast's lead the rest of the way. He allowed two runs on three hits in three innings of work to pick up the win. Andrew Bynum closed out the game with two innings of scoreless relief.
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