Photo: Orange Coast College
Juco : : Rankings
Final 2014 Top 50 JUCO teams
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Coast Overcomes Adversity
Win State Title, Earn No. 1 Ranking
John Altobelli if he had an eerie feeling of déjà vu as his club
prepared to begin play in this year’s California Final Four, with a
state championship on the line—and possibly even a national No. 1
years ago, his top-ranked Orange Coast College squad, arguably one of
the best teams to come out of California in years, had similar
championship aspirations, only to be eliminated in two straight games
in the Final Four.
this year’s club was on a 12-game roll, Altobelli was justifiably
concerned that his club’s title hopes could easily go up in smoke
as his two ace pitchers, twins David and Jacob Hill, who were 20-1
between them, might not be healthy enough to even participate in the
Final Four. Jacob had missed most of the state playoffs to that point
with a sore arm, while David severely rolled his ankle, stepping on a
baseball, in practice the day before the tournament opened and his
participation was considered doubtful.
the Hill twins, both unavailable for Game One, stepped up in the face
of impending doom over the next two days and pitched the Pirates to
the state title that eluded them two years ago. In the process,
Orange Coast moved from second to first in Perfect Game’s final
ranking of the nation’s Top 50 junior colleges, and became the
first California team to secure the No. 1 spot.
Pirates (36-9) won three straight games in the Final Four, with Jacob
Hill pitching the first eight innings of a 4-1 win over San Joaquin
Delta in Game Two and David Hill closing the deal a day later (May
26), working the first seven innings while gutting out a 5-3 victory
against the same San Joaquin Delta club.
state title was the second in Altobelli’s 22-year run as Orange
Coast coach, and provided some redemption for the failings of his
2012 club. His previous championship came in 2009.
team really came together down the stretch,” Altobelli said. “They
really bought into what we were trying to accomplish. Late in the
season, we brought the guys in and did a power-point presentation
that focused on our 2009 team, and showed them how good that team
was. I told them to starting dreaming big, like those guys did. Once
we all came together, nothing could stop us.”
Pirates were 21-9 at the time of Altobelli’s heart-to-heart, and
coming off a couple of tough losses in Southern California’s rugged
Orange Empire Conference. But from that point on, they went 15-0 to
close out the season in style. But in the end, everything pretty much
hinged on the return of the Hills.
frankly, we didn’t know if we’d have either one of them for the
tournament,” Altobelli said. “But they both really battled
through some adversity and gave us two excellent outings. When David
went down with his injury, Jacob really responded, just like David
had stepped up when we didn’t have Jacob. Twins can be that way
sometimes in the way one compensates for the other at a time of
Hill underwent relentless treatment on his ankle throughout the
weekend before toeing the rubber in the championship game, and not
knowing what to expect. He fell behind 3-0 after two innings, but
responded by walking none and striking out seven in his seven innings
of work. The Pirates pulled out a win for him, despite being outhit
Jacob, and now David," said Altobelli, immediately following the
championship tilt. “There were plenty of heroes throughout the
season, but those two guys were our foundation and they came through
time and time again.”
the championship provided instant relief for Altobelli, who remained
fearful throughout the Final Four that this club, with all its
uncertainties, might suffer the same season-ending fate his powerful
2012 club did.
team was just as talented,” said Altobelli, who has spent the last
several summers coaching Brewster of the Cape Cod League, “but I
think this one got the key hits, and made the key outs at the right
time. Our 2012 club kind of shot itself in the foot, but this team
really responded when it needed to.”
the Hill twins were indispensible to Orange Coast’s success,
freshman lefthander Art Vidro’s might have been just as noteworthy.
He made four starts in the California state playoffs, largely as a
fill-in for the injured Jacob Hill, and won all four, including an
opening-round 3-1 win in the Final Four that netted him tournament
MVP honors. He went 8-3, 2.22 in 10 starts on the season.
Hill finished his season with an 11-1 record and 1.67 ERA, and walked
just 16 while striking out 109 in 113 innings. Jacob’s victory in
the Final Four pushed his final line to 11-0, 1.27. In 71 innings, he
walked 22 while striking out 61.
Hills are expected to factor prominently in this week’s baseball
draft, with David, a righthander and the harder throw of the two,
projected to be selected in the top 5-6 rounds, and Jacob, a
lefthander, expected to go a few rounds later.
both pitchers also have college commitments to the University of San
Diego, and are among 11 players on the OCC roster that have
commitments to Division I schools.
Coast’s closing rush enabled it jump past previous No. 1
Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.), and it was also able to withstand
fast-charging Iowa Western and claim the No. 1 spot in PG’s Top 50.
Western (56-11) won its third Junior College World Series title in
five years, annihilating its competition in winning five straight
games, including a decisive 17-5 win in the championship game over
Miami-Dade. In its three previous games in the 10-team tournament,
the Reivers beat Midland (Texas) 9-0, Miami-Dade 10-0 and Midland
outfielder Alex Krupa earned tournament MVP honors by going 12-for-20
with five extra-base hits, eight RBIs and seven stolen bases. He went
4-for-5 with four RBIs to highlight Iowa Western’s 20-hit attack in
its decisive win over Miami-Dade in the final.
Reivers won 18 of their final 19 games on the season to jump from No.
5 to No. 2 in PG’s final rankings, but couldn’t quite overtake
Orange Coast for the top spot.
years ago, Orange Coast and Iowa Western also battled each other for
national supremacy with the World Series champion Reivers gaining the
upper hand when OCC faltered at the end. The Pirates finished at No.
junior colleges are not members of the National Junior College
Athletic Association, so there has never been an opportunity for
Orange Coast and Iowa Western to settle things on the field.
meanwhile, were determined in all other junior-college divisions
throughout the country over the final week of May.
(Ariz.) won the NJCAA Division II World Series to claim its first
national title since that school captured three consecutive Junior
College World Series championships from 1970-72. The Thunderbirds
(52-13) moved up to No. 7 in PG’s final ranking, while Tyler
(Texas) nudged its way into the top 50, at No. 49, by capturing their
second D-III World Series crown. Edmonds (Wash.) climbed to No. 22 by
winning its seventh Northwest Athletic Association of Community
Previous No. 1-Ranked Teams:
2006—Walters State, Tenn. (61-8)
2007—Chipola, Fla. (41-18)
2008—Grayson, Texas (48-15)
2009—Howard, Texas (63-1)
2010—Iowa Western (50-12)
2011—Navarro, Texas (42-17)
2012—Iowa Western (62-6)
2013—Central Alabama (43-14)
||Orange Coast (4)
||Iowa Western (1)
||San Joaquin Delta
||Gulf Coast State
||St. Johns River
||Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
1-Won NJCAA Division I World Series
2-Won NJCAA Division II World Series
3-Won NJCAA Division III World Series
4-Won California Final Four
5-Won Northwest Championship
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