COSTA MESA, Calif. – El Camino College was four outs away from taking the opening game of the California Community College Baseball Southern California Sectionals, but No. 1 seed Orange Coast College rallied for three runs in the eighth to defeat the Warriors 5-4 Friday afternoon at Wendell Pickens Field.
The Warriors (37-9) held a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth but the Pirates (36-10) had two runners on with two away. With runners on the corners, John Balliet singled to left field to trim the deficit to 4-3 and put runners on first and second. The runners then advanced after Warriors pitcher Taylor Rashi spiked a pick-off attempt to second base. It proved costly as Walker Keller came through with a two-out, two-strike single up the middle to score both runs and put the Pirates ahead 5-4.
Rashi finished the day allowing five runs on 11 hits and struck out six.
The Warriors had one last chance in the ninth inning as Noah Barba singled through the left side with one out to put the tying run on base. But Pirates starter Kyle Robeniol got catcher Trevor Casanova, who had three hits on the day and was 10 for his previous 12 at-bats, to fly out to center field for the second out. Robeniol then struck out Ty Conrad to end the game and put the Pirates up in the series.
The Pirates starter picked up the complete-game victory after allowing four runs on eight hits. He walked three and struck out five.
The Warriors fell behind after the Pirates picked up a run in the third inning but the ECC offense woke up in the sixth inning. Casanova led off the frame with a single and then Conrad doubled to the wall in left to put runners on second and third with no outs. Brady Dorn cashed in the tying run with a groundout to short, allowing Casanova to score and also advance Conrad to third. That proved vital as Connor Underwood lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Conrad and give the Warriors a 2-1 advantage.
In the seventh, the Warriors added another run as Barba bounced a two-out double past the diving third baseman, allowing Darian Sylvester to score from second and make it 3-1.
The Pirates broke their scoring slump in the seventh though as a sacrifice fly from Jacob White made it 3-2 with six outs left on each side.
Not to be outdone, the Warriors got that run back in the eighth on another sacrifice fly, this one by Cody Wissler to score Dorn from third base and make it 4-2.
Casanova finished the day 3-for-4 to lead the Warriors offense while Barba was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Balliet was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Pirates while Travis Moniot, Eric Wagaman, Robert Teel and Keller all had two hits on the day.
The teams will square off again Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. with the Warriors as the designated home team at Wendell Pickens Field.