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Pirates hang on for dear life in 10-8 win over Dons

Pirates hang on for dear life in 10-8 win over Dons

COSTA MESA -- In the world of California Community College baseball, NO lead is safe and for the Orange Coast College baseball team nearly found out the hard way, but in the end, the Pirates held on for a 10-3 conference win over rival Santa Ana College on Tuesday at John Altobelli Park.

On the same day that saw Golden West College rally from a 12-4 deficit in the final two innings to win 13-12 over Irvine Valley, the Pirates carried a 10-4 lead into the ninth, only to see the Dons creep back into the game and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base before the third out was finally recorded.

Zach Leite went 2-for-4, including a grand slam with a run scored and six RBI for the Pirates (14-21, 8-8 in the Orange Empire Conference), while Owen Wessel added two hits, three runs and two RBI from the top of the order. The lower half of the Pirate lineup -- Luke Flinn, Keith Aguilar, Devin Rogers and Dylan Krause -- combined for seven hits and three runs scored as the Coast bats knocked out SAC starter Brady Schrank (4-2) early. Entering the game with one of the top ERAs in the OEC, Schrank allowed seven runs on six hits over the first two innings to take the loss. OCC starter Dimond Loosli picked up the win, allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings, allowing four hits, four walks and three strikeouts.

Trailing 1-0 after an unearned run in the top of the first, Coast answered back quickly as a pair of walks from Wessel and Taylor Takata were followed up with back-to-back doubles by J.T. Crabbe and Leite, putting Coast up 3-0. 

A two-run home run from Justin Long got the Dons even at 3 in the top of the second, but again, Coast responded with a crooked number of its own. With the bases loaded and two outs, Leite came up and launched a grand slam over the right-field fence, putting the Pirates up 7-3.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, an RBI-single by Wessel made it 8-3. A walk moved Wessel to second and a stolen base moved him to third. After a called third strike, the SAC pitcher weren't paying attention and Wessel stole home to make it 9-3.

A sacrifice fly by Wessel in the seventh made it 10-3 and the game appeared to be on cruise control for the Pirates ... but the defending state champion Dons had a different outcome in mind, scoring a run in the eighth to make it 10-4 before a near-rally of the ages in the ninth was stopped just short. A double, single, a dropped fly ball and four walks made things a bit sweaty for the Pirate pitching staff, but in the end, closer Jackson Gilles picked up his fifth save of the season. 

The Pirates and Dons will play Game 2 of this three-game series on Thursday at SAC, beginning at 2 p.m. with the finale back at OCC on Saturday at 12 p.m.