The objective for most baseball offenses is to knock out the starting pitcher and eventually feast on relievers. But if the first 10 games are any indication, Orange Coast College opponents this season should be careful what they wish for.
The Pirates used five combined innings of hitless, scoreless relief from winner Brian Bass and Parker Manahan to secure a 9-2 nonconference triumph over visiting Long Beach City College on Tuesday, continuing a trend of bullpen dominance that is more impressive on paper than on any radar gun.
Bass, a right-handed side-armer who is now 1-0, struck out three and faced only two more than the minimum in four innings, as one Viking reached on a throwing error and another was hit by a pitch. He now has worked nine innings this season, allowing five hits and no earned runs, while striking out nine.
Bass' pristine earned-run average makes him one of six Pirate relievers, including Manahan, who have yet to allow an earned run this season. The aforementioned collection of arms has worked a combined 20 2/3 innings, surrendering just 12 hits and walking eight with 24 strikeouts.
OCC (8-2), ranked No. 2 in Southern California in the preseason poll, has been behind in only two of its wins, and its 2-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the fourth Tuesday represented the latest an opponent has been on top in any of the Pirates' victories this season.
"It's not a flame-throwing group, but we have a group of good, quality kids who go out there and throw strikes and compete," OCC Coach John Altobelli said.
Manahan, who worked a perfect ninth inning, has now allowed no earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. The other members of the zeros club include Tanner Murphey (three innings), as well as Jason Broussard, Dominic Purpuira and Joe Reta (two innings each).
OCC sophomore Spencer Moran, making his first start, allowed five hits and two earned runs in four innings. He left six runners on base before giving way to the pen.
By the time Moran relinquished the mound, the hosts had rallied for a 3-2 lead that put them ahead for good.
Sophomore center fielder Cody Bruder opened the game with a booming home run to left, the first of his OCC career, to knot things at 1-1.
Sophomore first baseman Chris Iriart, who went three for five with three runs batted in to give him 13 RBIs in eight games (official statistics are still being gathered for two wins at College of the Desert on Feb. 14), homered to open the OCC fourth inning. It was his second homer of the season as OCC, now with five, has equaled the number of dingers it hit in 39 games last season.
Daniel Delaney doubled with one out and, after Jake Thumm walked, an errant throw to first base on a pickoff attempt by the catcher allowed Delaney to score from second.
OCC, which has now outscored foes, 67-25, this season, wasted little time extending the lead, as it plated three more runs on four hits in the fifth.
A double by sophomore shortstop Cody Nulph and a single by Ariart drove in runs in a fifth-inning rally that included bunt singles by Bruder and sophomore second baseman Greg Espinosa.
Another RBI single by Nulph (two for five with two RBIs) in the sixth inning upped OCC's lead to 7-2, and an RBI triple by sophomore pinch-hitter Grant Davis and subsequent RBI single by Ariart finalized the scoring for the winners in the eighth.
Long Beach, for which right fielder Daniel Pitts was two for four with an RBI, fell to 3-5.
OCC, which opens Orange Empire Conference play on Feb. 27 against defending state champion Cypress, plays host to College of the Canyons on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and visits Long Beach City College on Thursday at 2 p.m.
Orange Coast 9, Long Beach 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
LBCC 101 000 000 000 – 2 5 2
OCC 100 231 02x – 9 13 2
Levine, MacKenzie (5), Flashman (8) and Delgado, Castaneda (8); Moran, Bass (5), Manahan (9) and Delaney, Friedman (8). W – Bass, 1-0. L – Levine, 0-1. 2B – Pitts (LB), Nulph (OCC), Delaney (OCC), Thurmm (OCC). 3B – Davis (OCC). HR – Bruder (OCC), Iriart (OCC).