CBB: OCC goes deep to tie series with Vaqueros

SBCC and Orange Coast are going to the limit for a berth in the Community College Baseball State Final Four.

Orange Coast, the defending state champion, hit two homers and defeated the Vaqueros 5-2 on Saturday at Pershing Park to even the best-of-three So Cal Sectional series at one game apiece. The teams will play the deciding game on Sunday at noon at Pershing Park.

“This is what you play for — a Game 3 or a Game 7 at the professional level,” said SBCC coach Jeff Walker. “We’re a prideful group and Orange Coast has an outstanding program. It’s going to be exciting. Playing a Game 3 at home is a good deal.”

Justin Bruce suffered his first loss of the postseason for SBCC (33-10). He went 7.2 inning, allowing five runs on nine hits, with four strikeouts and four walks. The game also marked the first time this season SBCC suffered a loss at home after scoring first.

Cam Jones drew a walk to lead off the game, went to second on an infield hit by Matt Henderson and scored on Jimmy Hill’s RBI single through the left side. Santa Barbara had runners at first and third with one out but the threat ended on a strikeout and an alert play by catcher Jack Kruger, who faked a throw to second base and caught Henderson off third for the final out.

Lefty Dominic Purpura earned the win for OCC (26-17). He gave up one run on six hits, three walks and three hit batters in 7.2 innings. He struck out six.

“Their guy pitched well when it mattered and we didn’t get the timely hitting,” said Walker. “They came out ready to play and did a good job of answering back after we scored in the first. We could have tacked on a couple more in the first but we made some mistakes.”

Hill went 3-4 for the Vaqueros, Spencer Erdman was 2-4 and Henderson reached base four straight times on a hit, two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

Tommy Bell hit a solo homer in sixth to give OCC a 3-1 lead. Stefan Panyiotou added a two-run shot to right field in the eighth.

Purpura loaded the bases with two outs after hitting Henderson, Connor McManigal and Jake Gagain with pitches. Reliever Jack Pabich came in and struck out Brandon Evans.

The Vaqueros won their Super Regional series in three games.

“It’s hard to lose two at the Persh and we’ve got good vibes all around,” Hill said. “We’re ready to get after it tomorrow.”