COSTA MESA — Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli limps to the third-base coaching box these days with a swollen knee. But, ever a slave to diamond routine, he still throws every batting practice.
That pitch count increases every time his pitchers throw a shutout, as the former minor league outfielder, in his 19th season at OCC, pledges to throw batting practice to all the pitchers as a reward for their holding an opponent scoreless.
"Luckily, we play games all week, so maybe by the time we have another practice, they will have forgotten about it," Altobelli said with a smile after four pitchers combined on a six-hitter in a 4-0 nonconference triumph over visiting Long Beach on Tuesday that helped OCC improve to 4-0.
Freshman Ryan Boselo worked four strong innings in his collegiate debut to collect the win. The Estancia High product surrendered just one hit and struck out three.
"He did an outstanding job," Altobelli said of Boselo, who was followed by fellow freshmen Jed Vandernaald (two hits allowed in two innings), Conor Schmidt (one hit in one inning) and Mark DeFrenza (two hits in two innings), another Estancia alumnus.
"Our guys threw strikes and worked out of trouble," Altobelli said after OCC pitchers left seven of the 10 stranded runners in scoring position, four at third base.
OCC pitchers struck out seven and benefited from three double plays and one caught stealing, to help overcome four walks, two hit batters and two errors.
It was only the second home shutout in just over four years for the Pirates, who last posted a goose egg at Wendell Pickens Field against Irvine Valley on April 30, 2009.
OCC had just one hit through five innings — a Brian Garza home run in the fourth — off Vikings' starter Matt Padilla.
But freshman left fielder Chris Carlson singled with one out and, after a walk, Garza doubled in Carlson to chase Padilla in a two-run sixth.
OCC tacked on five more runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, following an early season pattern in which they have outscored foes, 17-3, after the sixth inning. OCC trailed or was tied after six in its first three wins, all at Cuesta, but had no such worries Tuesday.
Garza, a freshman first baseman, finished three for four and is now eight for 15 this season (.533).
Freshman catcher Trent Woodward was two for three with a double and one run batted in, while sophomore center fielder Kevin Cho also had two hits and an RBI after opening the season just one for his first 14.
Sophomore third baseman Colton Hamill drove in a pair of runs for the winners.
The Pirates' 11 hits raised their season average 21 points to .263, while their earned-run average dropped from 2.67 to 2.00.
"Pitching was a question mark for us coming in," said Altobelli, whose lone experienced mound returner, Ryan Dorn, has surrendered six of his staff's eight earned runs. But we've had every pitcher get into a game now, which is nice.
"It's early and there is a long way to go. We're not swinging the bats as effectively as we want to be."
OCC doubled its season total for extra-base hits (now 10), including its first homer of the season.
"We're not going to see as many home runs with the new bats [designed to simulate wood bats], so we'll take it," Altobelli said.
OCC plays at Palomar today and at Long Beach on Thursday, before returning home to meet the Vikings Friday at 2 p.m., the first of five straight home games.
Orange Coast 10, Long Beach 0
LBCC 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
OCC 000 102 51x- 10 11 2
Padilla, Ketcher (6), Mickelson (7), Kay (7) and Ponce; Boselo, Vandernaald (5), Schmidt (7), DeFrenza (8) and Woodward, Hugaert (8). W – Boselo, 1-0. L – Padilla, 0-1. 2B – Woodward (OCC), Garza (OCC), Meyers (OCC). 3B – Chavez (OCC). HR – Garza (OCC).