COSTA MESA -- The sign of a good team is winning games without playing a perfect game. On Tuesday, the Orange Coast College baseball team was FAR from perfect, but still managed to pull out an 8-7, 10-inning win over visiting Irvine Valley at Wendell Pickens Field.
In a game where OCC (24-11, 12-4 in Orange Empire Conference) struggled with starting pitching, double plays and defense, the Pirates STILL figured out a way to top the pesky Lasers (16-19, 5-10), who outhit Coast 15-14, but left a whopping 13 runners on the bases.
The tone was set right from the opening inning as IVC had runners on first and third with one out, but a firm safety squeeze chance turned into an out at the plate as Coast kept the Lasers off of the scoreboard.
Quickly, OCC grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the frame when Skylar Limonchi walked, stole second and scored on an RBI-triple to left off the bat of Chris Ceballos, who later scored on an RBI-double by Domenic Donato.
IVC quickly responded and grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the second but a missed opportunity to score from third by the Lasers kept a fourth run off of the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the fourth, Coast grabbed a 5-3 lead on a two-run home run by Ramiro Velasco and from there, both teams traded runs in the middle innings, with OCC holding a 7-5 lead after six innings.
In the seventh, IVC's Grant Rockefeller came through with a two-run single to right to tie the game at 7 and that's where it stayed until the 10th, but not without some drama along the way.
- In the bottom of the seventh Coast had runners on first and third with nobody out, but failed to score, keeping the game tied at 7.
- Coast had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but a double play ended the Pirates' threat.
- In the ninth, Coast had runners on first and second with one out, only to see another double play end the inning and force extras.
IVC was the victim of three fantastic defensive plays in the top of the 10th, evening things out from a four-error afternoon. Coby Kauhaahaa made a great diving stop on a grounder up the middle for the first out, Murphy Stehly climbed the latter and robbed another hit by snagging a line drive off the bat of Dustin Angus and finally, with a runner on second, Kauhaahaa again ranged up the middle and retired Ryan Gaynor on another diving stop.
Finally, the fun ended when, with runners on first and second, Kauhaahaa ripped a shot into the right-center field gap to score the winning run and end the 3-hour, 34-minute marathon.
Limonchi and Ceballos each went 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI, Domenic Donato went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Velasco added two hits, a run and two RBI for the Pirates.
Rockefeller led the Lasers by going 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI.
Doug Magee pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win and improve to 4-1.
With the win, Coast maintained its two-game lead over Saddleback (25-10, 10-6), which beat Cypress on Tuesday.
Game 2 of this three-game series takes place on Thursday at IVC, beginning at 2 p.m., with the finale set for Saturday at 12 p.m. back at OCC's Wendell Pickens Field.