COSTA MESA, Calif. – The stage was set for a battle between the No. 14 ranked Santa Ana College Baseball team and top-seeded Orange Coast College, as they both advanced to play in the 2017 CCCAA Baseball Southern Super Regionals on May 12-14.
In Orange Empire Conference play, the Dons and Pirates matched up three times in a home and away series. Although all three games were closely contested, OCC went 3-0 to take the series.
The Dons showed that they didn't care about the past, with a 3-1 game one victory to bring the Pirates to the brink of elimination.
Santa Ana jumped ahead on the Pirates right from the start with a two-run first inning. Lead-off man Erick Leef got on base with a single to center and was then driven in on a triple from Julio Rivera. Next, Nathan Flores flared a single to right field to extend the lead to two.
Don's ace Guillermo Sanchez was brilliant on the mound for the whole nine innings, striking out eight and allowing one run on five hits to earn the win.
Sanchez found himself in a couple jams throughout the game but found ways to pitch his way out of them. The Pirates scored their only run against him in the third inning on an Eric Wagaman single to left field but were held to just one run in the inning.
In the seventh, Sanchez put two OCC runners on the base paths by hitting one batter and walking the next. It seemed like the Dons were ready to go to the bullpen at that point but wisely gave Sanchez the opportunity to work his way through. Sanchez rewarded his coaching staff by retiring the next three batters in order and ended the inning unscathed.
The Dons added an insurance run on a single from Nathan Flores in the ninth, giving Sanchez enough support to pick up the win.
In game two, the Pirates depended on starting pitcher Ryan Randel who threw a complete game with five strikeouts and only allowed one run to force a winner takes all game three.
OCC put up one in the second and fourth innings and then added on with three more in the seventh inning to take a 5-0 lead. The Dons answered with a run in the seventh but couldn't continue the rally, resulting in a 5-1 loss in game number two.
Nigel Ward took the loss with a stat line of seven innings, five strikeouts and three earned runs.
After grabbing game two, the Pirates kept the momentum going into the Sunday and found themselves ahead 5-0 in the fifth inning.
With their backs against the wall, the Dons decided to fight back by scoring four runs to cut the lead to one in the top of the fifth. Orange Coast quickly took the lead back in the bottom of the inning with one run, and then extended it with two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.
Game three would end with Dons trailing 9-4, falling to the Orange Coast Pirates and finishing their season in the CCCAA Baseball Southern Super Regionals.
The 2017 Santa Ana Dons Baseball team finishes the season with an overall record of 29-17 and a conference record of 10-11.