Orange Coast College baseball swept Saddleback College last week, maintaining their first place lead in the Orange Empire Conference.
The Pirates outscored the Gauchos 33 to 11 over four games, including the one non-conference exhibition on Friday. All games this year are considered exhibitions, but the first game of the Friday double-headers are always non-conference.
Pitching was key for the Pirates in the opening game of the series, as starting pitcher Michael Ryhlick went six innings, only allowing two runs, and relief pitcher Alex Shadid kept OCC in the game, tossing four scoreless innings before infielder Andrew Cromwell could score on a wild pitch in the 10th inning to break the tie. The final score in Tuesday’s game was 3-2 Pirates.
The second game of the series was all OCC, with a final score of 9-1,. Starting pitcher Chazz Martinez threw seven innings of one-hit baseball, striking out nine and also hitting a solo home run – continuing to contribute to both sides of the ball. Infielder Tatsuhori Negishi added three hits, scoring two runs in the offensive onslaught at Saddleback.
In the concluding game against the Gauchos, OCC broke a 3-3 tie with a massive nine-run display in the sixth inning. The Pirates rallied for a total of 13 runs and 19 hits in a dominant 13-6 win on Friday, completing the three-game conference sweep.
“I was not expecting to sweep them, honestly,” said Nate Johnson, head coach of the OCC baseball team. “It clicked for us all week, and it began with our starting pitching; [Michael] Ryhlick on Tuesday, Chazz [Martinez] on Thursday, and Kelly Austin [on Friday.] It was an impressive performance from all those guys.”
Next week is a pivotal series for OCC, as the Pirates will head to second-place Cypress for three conference games that could dictate the Orange Empire Conference champion.
“We’re not going to change anything just because we are playing Cypress,” Johnson said. “We are just going to prepare for ourselves and take care of business.”
OCC will play two conference games at Cypress College on Tuesday and Thursday before playing the final game of their series at OCC on Friday at 3 p.m.