Pirates fall late to Gauchos

Photo courtesy of Steven Guersch
Photo courtesy of Steven Guersch

COSTA MESA -- The close calls didn't go the way of the Orange Coast College softball team as the Pirates fell to visiting Saddleback, 6-2, in nine innings on Monday at the OCC Softball Complex.

Coast (2-5, 0-3 in Orange Empire Conference) were deadlocked with the Gauchos (10-4, 2-2) from the fourth inning on and had runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings, but they just couldn't get the winning run across the plate.

OCC's best chance came in the bottom of the sixth when Madison LeClaire (2-for-4, one run, one RBI) singled to center field and advanced to second when Joanna Michaels (3-for-4) followed with a single of her own. Ashley Boss moved up both runners with a well-placed grounder to second, putting runners on second and third with only one out.

Katherine Sua lifted a fly ball to right and LeClaire appeared to slide in under the upper-body tag at the plate, but the umpire called LeClaire out and the game remained tied at 2.

In the bottom of the seventh, Coast again had its leadoff hitter on base with a single off the bat of Caitlyn Sideris. A grounder to second moved Sideris to second and a bunt moved her to third, but the Gauchos wiggled out of the jam, sending the game to extra innings.

Jaelyn Operana did a masterful job of holding down the Gauchos for eight innings before the guests finally strug together a few hits in the ninth to blow the game open. A pair of two-run hits by the Gauchos turned a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 advantage and from there, Saddleback pitcher Annalie Benjamin shut the door in the bottom of the ninth.

OCC will play at Santiago Canyon College on Wednesday (3 p.m.) before returning to the OCC Softball Complex on Saturday to host Santa Barbara City College, beginning at 11 a.m.