With an 8-0 Southern California Sectional series-clinching 8-0 win over Southwestern Community College on Saturday, the Orange Coast baseball team tied a 60-year-old school record with seven shutouts in one season.
But after the top-seeded Pirates won their 12th straight game to advance to the four-team state tournament beginning Saturday at Fresno City College, Coach John Altobelli, in his 22nd season, said the celebration that includes the traditional postgame dog pile never gets old.
Freshman left-hander Art Vidro allowed one hit in six innings to earn his third impressive postseason win and the designated visitors (33-9) pounded out 12 hits, including home runs by Tommy Bell and Cody Bruder, to dominate the Jaguars (29-14) from start to finish.
It was the sixth consecutive postseason win for OCC, which has now swept El Camino, Allan Hancock and Southwestern to reach the state Final Four for the fifth time under Altobelli, the fourth time in the last 10 years.
"You couldn't ask for a better game," said Bruder, a sophomore center fielder who went three for five and scored twice, including his fourth homer of the season. "It was awesome. The 12 hits really helped us and [Vidro] has been amazing his whole [postseason], the way he has stepped up. And, it was great to see [sophomore pitcher Jacob Hill, who missed the first two series while resting a tired arm] out there again."
Hill, who shared Orange Empire Conference Pitcher of the Year honors with his identical twin brother David, struck out three in two scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and walked none.
Vidro struck out six, walked three, and allowed just one ball to be hit out of the infield — a line-drive single to right field by Roman Garcia to lead off the fourth inning — in his most-dominant performance of the season. Vidro has allowed one earned run in 19 2/3 innings in his three postseason starts. In his last five appearances, he has yielded just one earned run and 12 hits, while striking out 21 in 20 2/3 innings.
Vidro, who at one point was demoted to the bullpen, is now 7-3 with a 2.32 earned-run average, as OCC's team ERA dipped to 1.91, second-best in the state.
"He has been spectacular down the stretch for us, just unbelievable," Altobelli said of Vidro, who allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four innings, but let just one Jaguar get past second base.
"And we got some quality two-out hits, so there were a lot of positives. Hopefully, we can get three more [wins] and call it a year," said Altobelli, who noted that this dog pile, much more compact and spirited, was an improvement over the one that occurred after OCC clinched a share of the Orange Empire crown.
"I'd say that was quality," Altobelli said of the human pyramid on the infield grass, from which everyone appeared to emerge without injury. "I've never had a team ask me so many times if it was OK to pile. They don't understand how few and far between these dog piles are. So, when you get one, do it."
Bruder, a first-team all-conference honoree who said he is being recruited by UC Irvine, Michigan and Oregon, began a three-run third inning with a single. After sophomore Auburn-bound shortstop Cody Nulph followed with a one-out double to extend his hitting streak to 27, sophomore first baseman Chris Iriart drove in Bruder with a sacrifice fly to right.
Bell, a freshman right fielder who also earned first-team all-conference recognition, then connected on his fifth homer of the season to drive in two more.
With one out and a man on first in the OCC fifth, Iriart and sophomore catcher and first-team all-conference performer Daniel Delaney doubled to drive in runs to pad the lead. Two more runs scored on an error and the Pirates, who had come from behind in four of their first five postseason wins, including scoring the final five runs of the game in a 5-4 win Friday, were able to cruise to victory.
Freshman third baseman Jake Thumm was three for four, while Nulph went two for five to lift his team-leading batting average to .409, which ranks No. 4 in the state.
Iriart, who leads the state with nine home runs, has a team-best 43 RBIs, which are tied for No. 2 in the state, followed by Bell (38), Bruder (31) and Nulph (30). Bell is hitting .397 and Bruder is hitting .368.
OCC is seeking its fifth state crown, having won titles in 1956, 1960, 1980 and 2009. The Pirates open the double-elimination state tournament on Saturday at noon against the No. 2-seeded team from Northern California.
Southern California Sectional
Orange Coast 8, Southwestern 0
SCORE BY INNINGS
OCC 003 041 000 – 8 12 1
SC 000 000 000 – 0 3 2
Vidro, J. Hill (7), Moran (9) and Delaney, Yelich (7); Ginkel, Lozier (5), Delaney (7), Martinez (9) and Canedo, Harry (8). W – Vidro, 7-3. L – Ginkel, 8-3. 2B – Nulph (OCC), Iriart (OCC), Delaney (OCC), Thumm (OCC). H – Bruder (OCC), Bell (OCC).