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Community College Regional Baseball Playoffs : Rancho Santiago Pitchers Feel Chipper : Hard-Working Navarrette Strikes Out Nine, Beats Orange Coast

Times Staff Writer

Much has been made about the number of innings Rancho Santiago College starting pitchers Jack Bailey and Willie Navarrette have worked this season.

Both had pitched more than 130 innings before the Southern California Regional playoffs started Thursday.

But at least for now, the Tired Theory can be put to rest. Saturday, Navarrette pitched a complete-game seven-hitter to lead Rancho Santiago to a 2-1 victory over Orange Coast in a second-round playoff game in front of about 350 spectators at Rancho Santiago.

Bailey pitched six strong innings as the Dons pounded East Los Angeles, 15-3, in the first round Thursday.

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Navarrette, who had pitched poorly in his past two starts, was working on eight days rest Saturday and was sharp. He struck out nine and walked one.

The extra rest came because of the built-in four-day break between the end of the conference season and the beginning of the playoffs.

“I wanted to come out here and prove I wasn’t tired,” said Navarrette, a sophomore left-hander. “We didn’t throw at all for four days, and I felt strong after that.”

Although OCC hit several balls hard, a second-inning home run by Scott Talanoa accounted for the Pirates’ only run. It was Talanoa’s state-leading 17th home run this season but also his last. The loss ends the season for OCC (31-11-1).

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“We hit a lot of ‘at-em’ balls,” OCC Coach Mike Mayne said. “We hit the ball better than one run, but Willie did a good job. He’s tough to score on.”

It was the 18th home run Navarrette (11-4) has given up this season and the seventh in his past three starts for Rancho Santiago (29-15).

“I throw the split finger (fastball) a lot, and when you make a mistake with it, it just hangs there,” Navarrette said. “What I can I say? I’ve been the victim of the home-run ball this season.”

Rancho Santiago will now advance to the double-elimination third round and play Cypress at 11 a.m. at Rancho Santiago Friday.

Rancho Santiago tied it, 1-1, in the third with some help from the OCC defense. Joey Townsend lined a single into left center and went to second when OCC left fielder Craig Nixon and center fielder Jason Young collided. Nixon was charged with an error.

Louie Maldonado then bunted for a single.

With runners on first and third, Danny Ontiveros grounded into a double play, but Townsend scored.

Rancho Santiago got the final run on a solo home run by John McTaggart in the fourth. OCC pitcher John Douris (7-4) had gotten ahead in the count, no balls and two strikes. But after a ball, Douris got a pitch in the middle of the plate, and McTaggart rammed it over the left-field wall for his 11th home run of the season and second of the playoffs.

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OCC’s top three hitters--Hector Santa Cruz, Nixon and Young--had only one hit among them in 16 at-bats. Young hit a two-out single in the eighth. Navarrette then walked Talanoa on four pitches but got Marty Cordova to ground into a force play to end the inning.

Navarrette hit Darrell Conner with one out in the ninth and fell behind pinch-hitter Pete McKeller, three balls and no strikes, but came back to get a strikeout. Mike Kelly then hit a fly ball into right-center field, but Ontiveros made a sliding catch for the final out.

“Willie was close to coming out (in the ninth),” Rancho Santiago Coach Don Sneddon said. “We had (Jack) Bailey ready. It would have been a real tough decision but Willie hung in there like he has all season.”


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