FRESNO -- The memorable 2018 season for the Orange Coast College baseball team came to an end late Sunday night at John Euless Ballpark as the Pirates fell to Sacramento City, 8-6, at the California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championships, hosted by Fresno City College.
It was a day that started at 10 a.m. with a 12-6, 12-inning win over Mt. San Antonio but it ended with a season-ending thud 14 hours later as the Pirates (34-15) simply ran out of gas and finished third in the state against a relentless Panthers' team that will take on San Joaquin Delta for the state championship.
While the season ended one day short of what the Pirates hoped for, the 2018 campaign can not be described as anything but successful. It was a season that began with injury concerns and a lethargic 8-7 start. Once the aches and pains lessened and key players returned, OCC caught fire with a 25-6 finish to the season, a second straight Orange Empire Conference championship (first back-to-back conference titles for OCC baseball in 30 years) and three consecutive playoff series sweeps en route to the State Final Four.
On Sunday night, Coast fell behind to the Panthers 5-2 and 6-4 before evening the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning, but SCC (35-15) picked up single runs in the seventh and ninth innings, while the Panther bullpen shut down the Pirates over the final four innings for the win.
Skylar Limonchi went 2-for-5 with two runs scored, while Ramiro Velasco added a hit and two RBI for the Pirates. Chris Ceballos went 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, while Murphy Stehly went 2-for-4.
McKinley LeFore came in relief for the Pirates and did a great job of keeping his team in the game with 5 1/3 innings of inspired work, but took the tough loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Isaiah Rodriguez (W 2-1) and Adam Erickson (ninth save) combined to shut down the Pirates over the final four innings, allowing two hits, no walks and three strikeouts. SCC retired 11 of the final 12 OCC hitters as the clock struck midnight, both literally, and on the Pirates' season.