BAKERSFIELD -- The Orange Coast College baseball team picked a bad weekend for its first two game losing streak of the season as the Pirates' incredible run for a state title came to a stunning and disappointing end with back-to-back losses at the 2012 California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championships last weekend at Bakersfield College.
In the opener on Friday, the Pirates -- ranked No. 1 in the tournament and No. 1 in the nation -- saw its offense shoot blanks in a 4-0 loss to Sierra College, forcing OCC into a must-win elimination game on Saturday against Rio Hondo.
Against the Roadrunners, the Pirates led early, only to watch Rio Hondo tie the game and force extra innings. Again, Coast grabbed a 4-3 lead in the 11th, but the Roadrunners tied things up again and one inning later, they eliminated the Pirates with a 5-4 win.
"It was a tough way to go out, that's for sure," OCC head coach John Altobelli said. "It seemed like every break went against us and we just couldn't find a way to create our own opportunities."
In the opener, the Pirates (36-7-1) ran up against one of the top pitchers in Northern California, Sierra's Josh Eagle. The Wolverine righty went the distance to improve to 11-2 overall, allowing just six hits, three walks and seven strikeouts in the shutout win. It was the first time in 95 games that the Pirates were held without a run, dating back to late in the 2010 season.
Trent Woodward and Bryan Garza each had two hits for Coast, but the rest of the lineup went a combined 2-for-26.
Against the Roadrunners, OCC again went up against a top-flight pitcher in A.J. Gonzalez (12-0), but Pirate righty Brandon Brennan (11-1) matched him early, then, outlasted his counterpart. Brennan pitched 10 impressive innings against an intimidating Rio Hondo lineup in the sweltering Bakersfield heat.
The Pirates finally found the scoreboard when Stefan Sabol ripped a triple to center and scored on the play when the Rio Hondo centerfielder threw wildly back into the infield for an error, putting Coast up 1-0.
Woodward led off the fourth with a bunt single and three batters later, scored on a double to right-center by Boog Powell, putting OCC up 2-0.
Rio Hondo used a leadoff walk, a wild pitch a pair of hits and a fielding error by Powell to tie the game at 2 after five innings, snapping a streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings by Brennan.
The 2-2 stalemate didn't last long as Woodward launched a solo home run to center – his first of the season – to put Coast back up 3-2 in the top of the sixth.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates were their own worst enemy again as a dropped fly ball in shallow left field allowed the Roadrunners to tie the game up again, 3-3.
After both teams held ground for four innings, the Pirates grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top half of the 11th inning. Back-to-back singles by Austin Wobrock and Justin Broussard opened the inning and after Powell moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, Joel Licon hit a chopper over a drawn-in third baseman to score Wobrock on the play. However, Broussard was thrown out trying to score and the Pirates could not tack on any much-needed insurance.
Brennan – who gave up just two earned runs on eight hits with a walk and seven strikeouts -- opened the 11th and allowed a leadoff infield single before finally being taking out of the game after 130 pitches. Bijan Rademacher came in to finish things up, but the Roadrunners used a sacrifice bunt, a hit batsman and an RBI-single by Dominique Davis to tie the game at 4.
Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Rio Hondo loaded the bases with walks before Davis again came through with a two-out, game-winning single to center, ending the game and the Pirates' season.
GAME NOTES – The 36 wins for OCC in 2012 was just one shy of the school record, set in 2009 (37-14) … Coast's .830 winning percentage is the third-best in school history (1956-1957) … Chris Carlson finished with a .421 batting average – 10th best for a single season, while his .380 career mark is seventh-best in school history. Powell's 76 hits for a season is third-best in OCC history, while Yuhl (11-2) and Brennan (11-1) each earned a spot for fourth place on the single-season wins list.