COSTA MESA – There is nothing like being long on offense to help a pitcher's short-term focus.
So, battling through five somewhat frustrating innings, after which host Orange Coast College trailed, 3-0, in the opening game of best-of-three Southern California Regional series against Allan Hancock on Friday, Pirates sophomore pitcher Ryan Doran knew that the big picture was the last of his concerns.
"Being on a championship team, you have to stick with it and trust your offense, no matter what happens," said Doran, who was eventually rewarded as OCC rallied for a 9-6 victory. "You have to have a short memory."
The Pirates (29-8) exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning and held on to earn the upper hand on the Bulldogs (20-17). The series continues Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. Should a third and deciding game be required, it would follow on Saturday afternoon.
The big blow in the sixth was a two-out, two-run triple by freshman designated hitter Tristen Metcalf that knotted the score at 3-3. Metcalf was part of the top third of the batting order that went a combined 10 for 14, drove in six runs and scored three times to help Doran improve to 6-4.
Metcalf scored the go-ahead run on a drag-bunt single by sophomore right fielder Matt Moynihan, who utilized three infield hits to wind up five for five.
Moynihan, the Orange Empire Conference Co-Player of the Year, upped his batting average to .475 this season, on pace to easily break the single-season record held currently by Joey James.
Freshman left fielder Chris Carlson capped the sixth-inning outburst by yanking a three-run home run over the right-field fence. It was the second home run of the season for Carlson, whose 37 RBIs rank second on the team behind sophomore infielder Jordan Beck (42).
Carlson's blast was also a measure of redemption. He hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the first inning and flew out with the bases loaded in the third. He also flew out to strand two runners in the fifth.
Doran was pulled after eight innings, having retired nine straight. He worked five perfect innings, faced the minimum in another and surrendered seven hits and three earned runs. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
"His velocity is down a little bit," OCC Coach John Altobelli said of the 6-foot-1, 175-pound right-hander who also has two saves this season. "But he's a bulldog and he competes and he did a great job for us."
Hancock, which came in batting .274 as a team, 56 points shy of the Pirates' collective average, scored three in the ninth, before freshman Josh Evans earned his sixth save of the season.
Evans, who came on for Jed Vandernaald with one run in and the bases loaded in the ninth, used one pitch to induce a 6-4-3 double play to help diffuse the rally.
Kevin Cho went three for five with two RBIs and one run for the winners, who are making their fifth straight postseason appearance. Every OCC starter but one contributed to the 15-hit attack.
"We were a little antsy early in the game and our approach wasn't very good," Altobelli said. "But we finally got the guys thinking about going back through the box. The big sixth inning was kind of reminiscent of our season, with guys doing the short game, guys getting a two-out knock and the home run. We kind of had a little bit of everything there."
Southern California Regionals
Orange Coast 9, Allan Hancock 6
AH 100 020 003 – 6 11 2
OCC 000 007 20x – 9 15 1
Perez, Borsum (6), Dunsmore (7) and Young; Doran, Vandernaald (9), Evans (9). W – Doran, 6-4. L – Perez, 5-8. Sv – Evans (6). 2B – Maestas (AH), Metcalf (OCC).
3B – Metcalf (OCC). HR – Carlson (OCC).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times