SAN DIEGO — Wildness by freshman pitcher Sam August proved costly for Orange Coast College Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but August lost control on and off the mound. He walked two, hit a batter, committed a throwing error and gave up a single as San Diego Mesa scored twice to win, 5-4, in San Diego.
The loss brings the South Coast Conference champion Pirates (31-9) within one game of being ousted from the state regional community college baseball playoffs.
The winner of the best-of-three game series advances to the state tournament next weekend in Long Beach. Orange Coast will have to sweep a doubleheader from San Diego Mesa today in San Diego or its season ends. The first game starts at 11 a.m.
Orange Coast held a 4-2 lead after seven innings, but August threw a wild pitch to allow a run to score in the bottom of the eighth to narrow the lead to 4-3.
Designated hitter Bill McCafferty singled to open the ninth for the Pacific Coast Conference champion Olympians (32-6). August then hit John Qsar on the wrist as he squared to bunt.
Catcher Larry Oedewaldt bunted back to August. After looking at third, August (10-3) threw the ball past second baseman Mike Lujan, who was covering first. One run scored on the error to tie the game, 4-4. After an intentional walk and a force out, August walked Tim Quinn with the bases loaded to force home the winning run.
"It was August's game to win or lose," OCC Coach Mike Mayne said. "He lost it and it's that simple."
The Pirates also struggled on offense, getting just five hits.
Three San Diego Mesa pitchers, Jeff Oswalt, Willy Morris and Eric Bridge, combined to walk 13. Orange Coast had the bases loaded twice with no one out, in the fifth and the eighth, but could get just one run out of it.
Orange Coast freshman Joey James hit his 19th home run of the season, a solo homer to open the second inning and tie the score, 1-1.