COSTA MESA -- After a few heartbreaking late-inning home losses, Davis Delorefice was not about to let this game slip by. The Orange Coast College right fielder lined a bases-loaded single to right to lift the Pirate baseball team to a 6-5 win over visiting Santa Ana College on Tuesday afternoon at Wendell Pickens Field.
Delorefice, who also helped in throwing two Santa Ana baserunners out at the plate, finished with two hits, a run and an RBI for the first-place Pirates (27-8-1, 14-5). The win keeps OCC in a first-place tie with Riverside City College (29-9), who topped Cypress, 13-10, at RCC on Tuesday. A Pirate win on Thursday, paired with a Riverside loss would give Coast its third consecutive Orange Empire Conference title.
For the Dons (24-13, 12-7), James Williams went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, while Drake Wood, Copper Hansen and Chad Wilson each added two hits to pace SAC's 12-hit afternoon.
Coast took advantage of three Santa Ana errors in the bottom of the first inning and grabbed a 4-0 lead. A single, an error and a sacrifice bunt had runners on second and third with one out when Stehly lined a double into left-center, scoring both runs. On the play, a botched fielding attempt by the center fielder and a wild throw to third by the SAC shortstop allowed Stehly to score on the play, putting Coast up, 3-0. Tyler Latch followed with a double and he scored on an RBI-single to right by Jacob Gentry.
Santa Ana bounced right back and scored three times in the top of the second, but OCC starter Miles Sandum wiggled out of further damage and kept OCC in front, 4-3.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, while Delorefice doubled to lead things off and he quickly scored on an RBI-single by Stehly to make it, 5-3.
Santa Ana was its own worst enemy on the basepaths as two interference calls and two thrown out runners at the plate squashed several big-inning opportunities.
Finally in the bottom of the ninth, Adam Serrano legged out an infield single and advanced to third on a single an error off the bat of Skylar Limonchi, who advanced to second on the play. Tommy Williams was intentionally walked to bring up Delorefice, who ripped the first pitch he saw past Wood at first and scored Serrano with the game-winning run.
Ben Davis (4-3) picked up the win in relief for the Pirates, allowing just two hits and no runs with three strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings. Kyle Hoskins (3-2) took the loss in relief for the Dons, allowing one run on four hits over 1 1/3 innings.
Game 2 of this week's three-game series will take place on Thursday at Santa Ana College (2 p.m.) with the finale back at OCC on Friday (2 p.m.).