Giacone, Pirates edge Tigers, 2-1 in Super Regional opener

Giacone, Pirates edge Tigers, 2-1 in Super Regional opener

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College baseball team picked up some strong pitching and took advantage of a pair of unearned runs to edge visiting Riverside City College, 2-1, on Friday at Wendell Pickens Field, in the opening game of the Southern California Super Regional playoffs.

In a game dominated by strong starting pitching and some unseasonably windy, damp weather from Mother Nature, the second-seeded Pirates (30-13) grabbed a 1-0 lead in this best-of-three series against the ninth-seeded Tigers (27-16). Game 2 will take place on Saturday at OCC, beginning at 1 p.m. 

Michael Giacone (5-2) pitched eight very effective innings for the Pirates, allowing just one run on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Doug Magee worked out of a ninth-inning jam to keep the Tigers off of the scoreboard, earning his fourth save of the season.

RCC's starting pitcher, Daniel Martinez (7-4) deserved a better fate as he held the Pirates to just two unearned runs on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over eight innings.

Coast grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Chris Ceballos singled with two outs and nobody on and went to third on a dropped fly ball to right off the bat of Domenic Donato. Ramiro Velasco then hit a ground ball to third, but the throw pulled the first baseman off of the bag, allowing Ceballos to score the game's first run.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth, when Velasco reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a wild throw by the RCC shortstop. Jacob Doty followed with an RBI-single to left, putting the Pirates up, 2-0. 

Giacone rolled through the first seven innings and retired the first two batters in the top of the eighth, but a single by Dylan Kanoho, a walk by Martinez and a wild pitch put runners on second and third for the Tigers. Joseph Hodapp followed with a line-drive single to right, which scored Kanoho, but Martinez was caught in-between third and home, trying to score the tying run, keeping the Pirates in front, 2-1.

In the ninth, a bloop single by Erick Rayford and a single by Jacob Barham put runners on first and third with only one out. But, Magee picked up a nice play on a bloop pop-up by shortstop Murphy Stehly and coaxed a popup off the bat of Andrew Juardo to first base to end the game.