COSTA MESA -- The top-seeded Orange Coast College baseball team will host 12th-seeded Long Beach City College in this year's Southern California Super Regionals, which begin on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Wendell Pickens Field.
The Pirates (31-8-1) earned a trip to Round 2 after dispatching L.A. Mission College last weekend, topping the Eagles 8-1 on Friday and 10-3 on Saturday.
The bats came alive for OCC against LAMC, pounding out 30 hits, including seven doubles, three triples and a home run. In the series opener, Davis Delorefice went 3-for-5 with a double, two triples and three RBI, while Tommy Williams went 2-for-2, including a two-run home run with three runs scored. In Game 2, seven different Pirates had multi-hit games, including sophomore Skylar Limonchi, who went 5-for-6 with three runs and one RBI.
While the offense was rolling, the OCC pitchers took care of their business and held the Eagles to just four runs (three earned) with 14 strikeouts over 18 innings. Game 1 starter Cole Van Den Helder (10-1) pitched seven strong innings to pick up the win, allowing just one run on seven hits. Game 2 winner, Ben Davis, pitched four solid innings of relief and held L.A. Mission to just one run on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
For the Vikings (28-15), they made it to OCC after upsetting No. 5-seed Ventura College last weekend. LBCC used a strong pitching performance from Garrett Rennie (8-2) and cashed in three unearned runs for a 3-1 win in the series opener. After falling to the VC Pirates, 5-0, Long Beach blew open a close game late with a 12-3 win. Mark Stanford led the offense by going 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI, while teammate Chris Rubottom added two hits (including a home run), a run and four RBI. Stanford's second HR of the game came in the ninth inning, a grand slam that sealed the victory for the Vikings.
The Pirates have played the Vikings three times this year and posted an 8-2 win on Feb. 6, an 8-3 win on Feb. 7 and a 9-1 win on Feb. 8, but head coach John Altobelli puts little into those results heading into this weekend's matchup. "That was a long, long time ago and both teams are completely different from the beginning of the season," Altobelli said. "Long Beach is well coached and they're coming here with a ton of confidence. We can't look back on those three games and be over-confident. We need to come out hungry and aggressive and we need to keep doing the things that got us here."
After starting the season 2-7, Long Beach has gone 26-8 over their last 34 games, with wins against several playoff teams, including Southwestern, Mt. San Antonio, El Camino and Santa Ana. The Vikings enter this weekend's series with a .298 team batting average and a 3.40 team ERA.
OCC is on a nice run of its own, winners of five straight and 11-of-13. The Pirates come into this weekend red-hot at the plate with a .326 team batting average and a solid 3.33 team ERA.
Game 2 of this best-of-three series will take place on Friday at 2 p.m., with Game 3 (if necessary) set for Saturday at 1 p.m. All three games will be at Wendell Pickens Field and CCCAA-mandated ticket prices will be enforced ($12 for adults, $8 for seniors over 65, students/staff and children under 12.
In other Super Regional action, No. 2 El Camino (34-6) will host No. 11 Cypress (29-13) ... No. 3 Riverside (32-10) will host No. 8 Mt. San Antonio (24-18) ... and No. 4 Glendale (28-15) will host No. 7 San Diego Mesa (28-13-1).