Pirates survive playoff opener, top Monarchs in 10 innings

Pirates survive playoff opener, top Monarchs in 10 innings

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College baseball team went from a steady high to a shocking low, then back up to improbable euphoria following Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning win over visiting L.A. Valley College in Game 1 of the 2012 Southern California Regional Playoffs.
 
The Pirates (32-4-1), the top seed in the state, were on cruise control with a 4-0 lead through eight innings and Keegan Yuhl on the mound in complete control.
 
But the 16th-seeded Monarchs (20-18) opened the ninth with three straight singles to load the bases and Bryce Kelly unloaded them with a three-run triple to right-center, cutting the deficit to 4-3 and knocking Yuhl out of the game.
 
Nathan Mendoza followed with a ground ball to shortstop, but OCC's Joel Licon misplayed it, allowing Kelly to score the tying run.
 
A sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Evans (4-0) moved Mendoza to third and, after a ground out made it two outs, Casey Ryan hit a grounder to Licon, who made the play and fired the ball to first.
 
Ryan, the state's leader in stolen bases (37) made it a bang-bang play, but the Pirates had the call go their way as the umpire ruled Ryan out to end the inning with the game tied at 4, sending the LAVC players, coaches and fans into a frenzy.
 
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth by the Pirates, L.A. Valley grabbed a 5-4 lead when Sam Johnston singled to center, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Trevor McMaster and scored on a ground-rule double to left-center by Eric Folkers.
 
Just three outs away from a heartbreaking loss, the Pirates tried to regroup and Boog Powell got things going with a leadoff single, but was eventually caught stealing on a miscommunication on signs.
 
Licon and Bijan Rademacher followed with walks and a fly ball by Stefan Sabol moved the runners up to second and third with two outs.
 
Bryan Garza -- OCC's sophomore first baseman who struggled early in the season -- erased all bad memories with a game-winning, two-run single up the middle, scoring Licon and Rademacher to end the game.
 
"I didn't hit it hard, but I'll take it all day," Garza said of his cued grounder up the middle that won the game. "I had some tough luck early on, but that seeing-eye single balanced it all out."
 
Nearly lost in the offensive drama down the stretch was the performance of both starting pitchers -- LAVC's Travis Cassidy and Yuhl for OCC.
 
Yuhl finished with a no-decision after allowing four ninth-inning runs. He gave up seven hits (three through the first eight innings) finished with a season-best 11 strikeouts.
 
Cassidy (6-5) took the loss after allowing six runs (all earned) on 10 hits over 9 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three.
 
OCC struck first when Eilert Meyers (2-for-4, two RBI) hit the fourth of four straight hits in the inning, scoring Rademacher (1-for-3, two runs) and Sabol to make it 2-0. In the fifth, a two-out, RBI-single by Sabol (2-for-5, one run, one RBI) scored Powell (3-for-5, one run) to make it 3-0 before a solo home run in the seventh by Ben Agredano pushed the Pirates' lead to 4-0.

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