COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College baseball team used another late-inning rally to top visiting Fullerton College, 9-5, on Tuesday at Wendell Pickens Field, giving the Pirates sole possession of first place in the Orange Empire Conference.
With the win, the Pirates (21-11, 9-4 in OEC) now carry a one-game lead over the Hornets (16-15, 8-5) and Saddleback (23-9, 8-5) atop the Orange Empire Conference and are two games up on fourth-place Cypress (22-10, 7-6).
Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Pirate bats came alive against the FC bullpen, scoring seven runs on seven hits against three different pitchers in that frame to pull away from the Hornets.
Coby Kauhaahaa got the fun started with a bunt single. He went to second on a single by Chris Ceballos, advanced to third when Domenic Donato was hit by a pitch and scored on an infield single off the bat of Josh Berman, making it 5-3, Fullerton.
But the damaging blow came off the bat of Ramiro Velasco, who singled to right, but when the ball rolled under the glove of the FC right-fielder, everyone came around to score -- including Velasco -- putting the Pirates up, 7-5.
Back-to-back singles by Jacob Doty and Murphy Stehly kept the seventh inning alive and Kauhaahaa batted again in the frame and drove in both runners on a two-run single up the middle, capping off OCC's scoring barrage.
After being held to just two runs on seven hits over six innings by FC starter Connor Tousignant, the Pirates scored seven runs on eight hits over the final two innings off of the Hornet bullpen, which needed four hurlers to get the final six outs.
Velasco went 3-for-4 with a run and three RBI for Coast, while Donato and Berman each had two hits and two runs. Kauhaahaa finished 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI.
Game 2 between the Hornets and Pirates will take place on Thursday at Fullerton College, with the finale taking place on Saturday at 12 p.m. back at Wendell Pickens Field for OCC's 70th Anniversary Game.