FULLERTON — The buzz in the Orange Coast College baseball dugout Thursday was about an impending delivery. But before the Pirates' players, coaches and supporters could fully focus on the news that freshman outfielder Chris Carlson was awaiting word about becoming a father, the Pirates made sure they delivered.
OCC crushed host Fullerton, 20-2, in the Orange Empire Conference opener in which the Pirates banged out 18 hits, played errorless defense, and had five pitchers combine to limit the Hornets to five hits.
Carlson did more than his share, driving in four runs, including the first of a two first-inning runs that put the Pirates (15-1, 1-0 in conference) ahead for good.
Sophomore center fielder Scott Cho went four for six with one RBI and four runs, while sophomore leadoff man Zach Chavez was three for four with two RBIs and four runs.
Freshman first baseman Eilert Meyers also drove in two and contributed two hits as all but one spot in the batting order produced hits for the Pirates.
OCC chased Fullerton starter Chase Yamashiro during a nine-run fourth inning in which five of the eight hits were doubles.
Yamashiro, who gave up seven runs, though only two were earned, had yielded just two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings coming in (an 0.79 earned-run average).
OCC produced at least one run against each of the first five Fullerton pitchers. Hornets' hurlers had combined to allow 21 runs in their previous six games.
The 20-run output matched a season-best for OCC, which is averaging 10.9 hits and 9.1 runs per game. The Pirates pounded Palomar, 20-4, on Feb. 23. OCC has scored in double digits five times this season.
The win not only got the Pirates off on the right foot in conference, it was an emphatic rebound from the first loss of the season, an 11-6 nonconference setback Sunday at College of the Canyons.
Fullerton (7-7, 0-1) committed six errors to suffer its most lopsided defeat of the season.
"The nice thing about us is, we put pressure on the defense," OCC Coach John Altobelli said. "[The Hornets] not playing catch today had something to do with [the win]. But we did a great job of swinging the bats and being productive and our pitchers came in and threw strikes. It was a good first conference win."
After starter Garrett Hartwell gave up two runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, Jed Vandernaald, Chad Thompson, Cory Davis and
Vandernaald allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings to earn his third win in as many decisions this season. The freshman right-hander has not allowed an earned run this season in 15 2/3 innings.
"He's been doing a good job," Altobelli said of Vandernaald. "He struggled a little in the fall and in January and he was kind of a question mark for us. But he has thrown some good innings and done a good job. Guys like that rising to the occasion has been nice."
Freshman Chad Thompson, a heralded prospect out of El Toro High who is in the early stages of a return from Tommy John surgery, struck out one in one scoreless inning. He has now worked the scoreless innings this season.
"Chad's coming along," Altobelli said of the 6-foot-8 right-hander. "He could be a big boost for our team."
There was some bad news Thursday for the Pirates. Sophomore outfielder Matt Moynihan, who doubled in a run, sprained his ankle while slipping on home plate as he scored in the fourth inning. He was helped off the field.
Altobelli said he had to remove freshman catcher Trent Woodward after the fifth inning due to a hip-flexor injury.
OCC resumes conference play Saturday at Cypress at noon.
Orange Empire Conference
Orange Coast 20, Fullerton 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
OCC 203 905 100 – 20 18 0
FCC 101 000 000 – 2 5 6