COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College baseball team couldn't solve the riddle of Guillermo Sanchez and fell to visiting Santa Ana, 3-1, in Game 1 of the Southern California Super Regional playoffs on Friday at Wendell Pickens Field.
It is now "must-win" time for the top-seeded Pirates (33-10), as they host the 14th-seeded Dons (29-15) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Game 2 of this best-of-three series. Should Coast prevail and even things, up, Game 3 will be on Sunday at 12 p.m. at OCC.
Sanchez (7-3), who allowed five runs on six hits against the Pirates back on March 9 (a 7-3 win for OCC), pitched a complete-game gem, holding Coast to just one run on five hits with four walks and eight strikeouts.
Pirate starter Kyle Robeniol took the hard-luck loss after battling through some early troubles. After allowing two runs in the first and seven hits through the first two innings, the sophomore battled Sanchez pitch for pitch, striking out eight over the final four frames of his six-inning performance.
But in the top of the first, Robeniol was up in the zone and the Dons made him pay for hit as Erick Leef singled, Julio Rivera lined an RBI-triple into the left-center field gap and Nathan Flores lined a single to right, putting the Dons up 2-0.
Robeniol wiggled out of bases-loaded, one-out jams in the first two innings with a pair of double plays, but the Pirates could not turn the tables on Sanchez and the Dons early on.
Coast had the first two runners on back in the second, third and seventh innings, but could only manage a third-inning, RBI-single by Eric Wagaman.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the second and third innings and failed to put Sanchez away, as the Dons held onto a 2-1 lead until the top of the ninth.
There, Rivera lined a two-out double to left-center and scored on an RBI-single by Flores, putting Santa Ana up, 3-1.
Sanchez saved his best for for the final two innings, retiring all six batters he faced to end the game and put the Dons one win away from advancing to the State Quarterfinals.