FRESNO -- The base-on-balls bugaboo reared its ugly head at the wrong time for the Orange Coast College baseball team as the Pirates fell late to Sacramento City College, 6-4, on Saturday in the opening game of the California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championships, hosted by Fresno City College.
It was a tough matchup for the Pirates (33-14), who entered today's matchup with the Panthers (34-14) ranked 71st out of 88 teams in the state walks allowed, while SCC ranked third in the state in earning free passes. Coast issued seven walks and four hit batters, giving Sacramento City runners on base every inning, which made for nine stressful innings for the OCC pitching staff.
Coast took advantage of some sloppy defense by the Panthers and grabbed a 2-0 lead with unearned runs in the first and third innings. In that bottom of the third, Ramiro Velasco, who finished 3-for-3, drove in Coby Kauhaahaa with an RBI-single to give Coast its two-run advantage.
OCC starter Cameron Jabara battled for every out, but kept the Pirates in front through the first five-plus innings before SCC battled back to even the score. Trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth, the Panthers used three singles and a fielder's choice to load the bases with nobody out and ended Jabara's afternoon with the Pirates ahead, 3-2.
Doug Magee came in and minimized the damage, but a sacrifice fly by Reuben Garza tied the game at 3. Magee wiggled out of further damage to give OCC some momentum, but the Panthers took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Saenz.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. That's when Velasco came up and launched a solo home run over the left-field wall, tying the game at 4.
In the top of the ninth, a one-out double by Saenz was followed by three straight walks, which allowed the go-ahead run to score for Sacramento City and Creed Smith followed with an RBI-single to make it 6-4. SCC closer Adam Erickson retired the Pirates in order in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his ninth save of the season. Lucas Reid (2-1) picked up the win for the Panthers, while Josh Berman (2-3) took the loss for the Pirates.
OCC will have to try and earn its seventh state title in program history through the loser's bracket, which begins at 10 a.m. against the loser of tonight's 6 p.m. matchup between Mt. San Antonio and San Joaquin Delta.