COSTA MESA -- Wendell Pickens Field and all who occupy it finally got to exhale a bit as the Orange Coast College baseball team picked up a much-needed 11-2 nonconference win over visiting Palomar College on Tuesday.
With the win the Pirates (1-2) snapped a modest and understandable two-game losing streak and in the process, gave new head coach Nate Johnson his first career win as the OCC skipper.
David Morgan went 3-for-4 with two runs, while Garret Barto and Logan Jackson each had two hits and two RBI, Barto slugged the first home run of the 2020 season for the Pirates and pointed at the No. 14 painted on the turf as he rounded the bases, paying homage to longtime head coach John Altobelli, who died just nine days ago in a helicopter crash.
OCC starter Michael Ryhlick, celebrated his birthday with a solid five-inning, 71-pitch performance as he held the Comets (3-2) scoreless on just six hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Palomar tied the game at 1 in the top of the sixth, but OCC regained all of the momentum with a four-run, bottom of the sixth.
With runners on first and second, Cary Arbolida singled to center field, scoring Morgan and giving the lead back to the Pirates.
After a costly run-scoring error by the Comets made it 3-1, OCC responded with RBI-hits by Jackson and Cromwell to put Coast up, 5-1.
Barto ripped his two-run home run through the wind in the bottom of the seventh, highlighting a four-run seventh that included RBI-hits by Jackson and Cromwell (again), putting the Pirates up, 9-1.
An RBI-triple by Ryan O'Halloran and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matt Maloney capped off the scoring for Coast. Reliever Alex Shadid (1-0) picked up the win, allowing two runs (one earned) over 2 1/3 innings before Kelly Austin wrapped up the game with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
OCC will head north to Cuesta College for a three-game series, beginning on Thursday at 2 p.m. The Pirates will return to Wendell Pickens Field on Tuesday against Long Beach City College, beginning at 2 p.m.