COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College baseball team started early and finished strong en route to an 8-3 win over visiting Golden West on Tuesday at Wendell Pickens Field.
The Pirates' win, coupled with a 3-2 loss to Riverside at the hands of Irvine Valley, puts OCC (23-6-1, 10-3 in Orange Empire Conference) alone in first place in the OEC, with the Tigers (22-8, 9-4) and Santa Ana (19-9, 9-4) just a game back.
Tyler Lasch went 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI for Coast, while Jacob Gentry added two hits and three RBI. The trio of Tommy Williams, David Morgan and Ryan O'Halloran each had two hits and scored six of OCC's eight runs.
For the Rustlers (16-12, 5-8), Jesse Fonteboa went 2-for-4 including a solo home run with two runs and an RBI, while Austin Schell added two hits a run and an RBI.
OCC grabbed an early 4-0 lead and was on the verge of running away from the Rustlers early on. An RBI-double by Lasch and an RBI-single by Gentry put the Pirates up 2-0 in the first before a two-run double by Skylar Limonchi doubled the lead in the second.
But GWC starter managed to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard through the next three innings, while the Rustlers chipped away at the deficit. He allowed four runs over five innings, allowing eight hits to go along with four strikeouts.
Miles Sandum allowed one run on six hits over four innings, but a high pitch count forced Coast into the bullpen earlier than expected. Brenden Argomaniz (3-1) kept the Pirates in front over the middle innings, before Vince Inman and Davis Delorefice collected the final seven outs of the game to finish things off.
GWC got to within a run at 4-3 in the top of the seventh before Coast answered back in the bottom of the frame. A Lasch single and a Delorefice double put runners on second and third with one out. Gentry stepped up and delivered the big hit, scoring both runners with a solid single to center.
In the bottom of the eighth, Coast picked up two insurance runs, courtesy of an RBI-single by Adam Serrano and a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of Limonchi.
Game 2 of this three-game series will take place on Thursday at GWC, beginning at 2 p.m. with the series finale back at Wendell Pickens Field on Saturday, beginning at 12 p.m.