Miscues hurt Pirates

SANTA ANA — Orange Coast College sophomore pitcher Ryan Doran battled inning after inning, matching Santa Ana sophomore lefty Ruben Orosco pitch for pitch.

Doran didn't catch many breaks in the key Orange Empire Conference game Saturday afternoon at Santa Ana College.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the defense behind him didn't catch many balls.

Three errors in the frame helped the hosts score four runs, the difference in a 5-1 Santa Ana victory that keeps the Dons alone in first place in the conference.

Santa Ana (20-8, 13-3 in conference) has a two-game lead on second-place Orange Coast (25-6, 11-5) with five games to go. The Dons can go for the season series sweep when the teams play again Tuesday at OCC.

Doran (5-3) tried to help the Pirates, ranked No. 1 in Southern California, pull even with the No. 3 Dons in conference. He went 7 1/3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter.

"He pitched awesome," OCC Coach John Altobelli said of Doran, who lost for the first time since a 4-3 loss to Santa Ana on March 12. "That's twice now that he's pitched really well against these guys, and he's got two Ls to show for it unfortunately. He's a competitor and I thought he pitched really well."

Santa Ana broke open a 1-1 tie in the eighth. With runners on first and second and one out, Santa Ana's Adrian Garcia bunted down the third-base line. Pirates third baseman Colton Hamill picked the ball up and one-hopped it to first, where Jordan Beck couldn't quite dig it out. The ball bounced back into the infield, allowing the Dons' Dylan Jones to score.

Altobelli called on reliever Josh Evans, who was greeted with a hard-hit smash up the middle from Santa Ana's Danny Recio. The umpire dove out of the way of the ball before it went past the shortstop and into center field, scoring another run. Hamill advanced on the play and scored when the throw to third base got away.

The third miscue was a fielding error on Dominick Solley's grounder to the right side. It was a possible inning-ending double play, but the throw to second got away as Recio scored the Dons' final run. Santa Ana Coach Don Sneddon, trying to win his 16th conference title in 30 years as coach, could only smile in the home dugout.

"The first goal is to win the Orange Empire Conference," said Sneddon, who has guided his teams to the most wins (1,011) of any junior college coach in state history. "I still believe it's one of the most difficult things to do in the state, because we have such quality teams. That was a win that we needed to keep some separation between us and them. This thing's not over, but it was a good win in our park."

Orange Coast scored its only run on Santa Ana's error in the first. With one out, Kevin Cho singled, and he went to third on an errant pickoff throw. He was then singled home by Beck (two for four), who upped his team-best run batted in total to 38.

Santa Ana answered in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and third and two outs, Doran appeared to have picked off Marcus Meraz at first. But as Meraz was pursued by Beck, Jones broke for home and scored the hosts' first run.

Altobelli said Beck formerly played shortstop. It was little mistakes like these that hurt OCC, just like when the Dons scored two unearned runs in the teams' first meeting.

"It's a first-and-third play and our first baseman starts running with the ball [toward second]," Altobelli said. "I know [first base] is a new position for him, but we don't have our guys do that. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes that we shouldn't have and Santa Ana, being a good team, capitalized on it."

Orosco stifled the Pirates' bats for much of the rest of the game, going eight innings and allowing five hits and the unearned run. He struck out three and walked one. Chris Carlson got a one-out single in the ninth and Trent Woodward walked, but Santa Ana reliever Garrett Wilson induced a fly out and strikeout to end the game.

The six hits tied a season-low for OCC, which has lost two of three after an eight-game winning streak.

"This would have been a nice one to get, but we've got Tuesday," Altobelli said. "We'll see what happens. We've got five games left."


Orange Empire Conference

Santa Ana 5, Orange Coast 1


OCC 100 000 000 – 1 6 3

SA 100 000 04x – 5 10 1

Doran, Evans (8), Vandernaald (8) and Woodward; Orosco, Wilson (9) and Recio. W – Orosco, 6-2. L – Doran, 5-3. 3B – Solley (SA).

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