CYPRESS — Whether they are facing a third strike, a third out, their final out, or a deficit, Orange Coast College baseball players usually get the same two-word prescription for success from Coach John Altobelli.
“Tiger up,” Altobelli shouts from the third-base coaching box, a message that is sometimes echoed by players in the dugout. It happens so consistently during a nine-inning game, one might consider it more monotony than motivation. But the Pirates seem to repeatedly take it to heart.
For the second time in four days against Cypress, the Pirates certainly earned their stripes. Tuesday, the visitors continually rallied by coming through in the clutch to claim a 13-8 Orange Empire Conference victory.
OCC, which trailed, 3-0, 5-3 and 8-7, on Tuesday, erased a five-run ninth-inning deficit and went on to defeat the Chargers, 7-6, in 11 innings at home on Saturday.
“We just know how to win,” said sophomore shortstop Jordan Beck, who went three for five and drove in three runs, one with each of his singles, to up his team-leading RBI total to 33. “Whenever we’re down, it doesn’t faze us. We just find a way to win.”
The last two RBIs for Beck came with two outs, which was a familiar theme. Sophomore third baseman Colton Hamill drove in three runs, all with two outs, including a two-run double that gave OCC a 7-5 advantage in the fifth inning.
“A lot of two-out hits, a lot of two-strike hits and some big double plays when we needed them,” Altobelli said. “Tiger up is something we’ve had for a few years. That’s just guys shortening up, getting on the plate and looking to go the other way. It’s a hard thing to get guys to buy into, but this team does a good job of buying in. And Beck is unbelievable.”
Said Beck, who was among those who stayed back and drove outside pitches to the opposite field for hits: “We try to go oppo a lot. We work on that in batting practice. There are a lot of holes out there in right field.”
The Pirates (22-4, 8-3 in conference), found holes in bunches against a depleted Chargers pitching staff Tuesday. OCC produced 12 runs in three innings, batting around in the fourth, fifth and ninth.
The four-run fifth produced the aforementioned 7-5 lead, but Cypress (13-10, 5-6), which scored in six of the first seven innings, tallied one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh to regain the lead.
Beck singled in Kevin Cho, who had walked and advanced on a groundout in the eighth, to knot things, 8-8. The Pirates then broke it open with a five-run ninth that included six hits and three of the Chargers’ five errors.
Freshman first baseman Eilert Meyers drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single, sophomore second baseman Zach Chavez tripled in two more, while Cho and Beck added RBI singles to the outburst.
The first two runs of the ninth were charged to Cypress reliever Jared Wilson, but the rest came against Jake Clark and Willie Shaw, both of whom had not pitched previously this season.
Cypress used six pitchers Saturday and five more Tuesday, despite starter Joey Rocha retiring nine straight to open the game.
Cho, Hamill, Meyers and freshman right fielder Matt Moynihan had two hits apiece for OCC, which takes a six-game winning streak into Thursday’s OEC clash at Saddleback. Cho stole two bases and scored three times, while Chavez and Beck each scored twice.
OCC recorded double plays in first four innings, three of them inning-enders. The Pirates also nailed a runner at the plate, though the collision slightly up the third-base line forced catcher Trent Woodward to leave the game with a concussion.
Freshman Josh Evans worked 2 1/3 shutout innings to earn the win. He allowed just one hit and is now 3-0 to go with his team-leading five saves.
It was the seventh time this season that OCC has put up double-digit runs.
The Pirates remain two games behind first-place Santa Ana and one game ahead of third-place Riverside in the OEC standings.
Orange Empire Conference
Orange Coast 13, Cypress 8
SCORE BY INNINGS
OCC 000 340 015 – 13 14 1
Cyp 210 211 100 – 8 13 5
Smith, Vandernaald (2), Davis (7), Evans (7) and Woodward, Hugaert (8); Rocha, Pearson (5), Wilson (5), Clark (9), Shaw (9) and Hartong. W – Evans, 3-0. L – Wilson, 0-2. 2B – Moynihan (OCC), Hamill (OCC), Fields (C). 3B – Chavez (OCC).