Redemption may be too strong a word. But Two players who had recently found themselves in less than good graces with Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli responded with strong performances Saturday to help the Pirates sweep their best-of-three Southern California Regional playoff series against visiting El Camino.
Freshman right fielder Tommy Bell, who was dressed down for not hustling in Friday's opening-game win, went four for four with two runs batted in and two runs scored in the 8-2 triumph that sent No. 1-seeded OCC (28-9) into next weekend's best-of-three Super Regional round against Allan Hancock (24-14-1). No. 13-seeded Hancock upset No. 4-seeded Palomar, two games to one, in the regional round.
The Super Regional begins Friday at 2 at OCC, with a game to follow Saturday at noon and, if necessary, Sunday at noon.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Art Vidro, who had recently been demoted to the bullpen, got the start and worked 6 2/3 innings to earn the victory and improve to 5-3 and extend OCC's winning streak to eight.
Vidro made good on Altobelli's plan to rest No. 2 starter Jacob Hill, the Orange Empire Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, to make sure Hill was fresh for future postseason duty.
"I think [resting Hill, who would have started a potential third game on Saturday if necessary] was a good thing in the long run," Altobelli said of his ace left-hander, who is 9-0 with a 1.33 earned-run average. "I don't think he is going to say it, but he has never thrown this many innings  in his life, so hopefully it's just a little fatigue that he is experiencing.
"The [No. 17-seeded Warriors (23-16)] have struggled a little big against left-handers, so Vidro was the obvious choice [to start] and he did a good job. That really helped having Vidro go out there and get it done. [The plan] worked."
Vidro allowed six hits, two unearned runs and struck out four while walking two in his first start since April 4. After going 4-0 in his first five starts, his four subsequent starts produced three losses and a no decision in games OCC lost. In those starts, he allowed 25 hits, 13 earned runs for a 7.47 ERA, and walked seven in 15 2/3 innings.
In two relief appearances on April 18 and April 24, he allowed two hits and no runs with no walks and four strikeouts in three combined innings.
"We delegated him to the bullpen from the starting rotation, but he threw really well [in the aforementioned relief stints] and in intrasquad games," Altobelli said of Vidro, who benefited from inning-ending double plays in the fifth and sixth innings Saturday. "He was getting the ball down and his velocity was good."
Bell, a first-team All-Orange Empire Conference performer, irked Altobelli by not running out popup on Friday that was dropped. Rather than being at second base on the play, he only made it to first and was subsequently thrown out at second trying to advance when a pitch in the dirt bounced a few feet away from the catcher.
Bell's base-running adventures continued early Saturday, as he was picked off third base by the catcher for the final out of the inning.
But Bell, who sprinted to second base on a popup that was dropped in foul territory, then cashed in the opportunity by singling, stealing a base and scoring to put the designated visitors up, 7-2, in the eighth. He singled with two outs in the fourth inning to drive in L. Grant Davis, who had doubled to start the frame. The run erased a 1-0 deficit.
Bell followed Chris Iriart's leadoff double with an RBI single in the sixth to help spark a four-run inning.
"I came out today with a better mindset and was just trying to hustle everything out and play hard," Bell said.
Sophomore designated hitter Justin Broussard went three for three with one RBI and one sacrifice, while
Cody Bruder (two RBIs), Cody Nulph, Chris Iriart and Daniel Delaney also contributed to the Pirates' 12-hit attack.
Southern California Regional
Orange Coast 8, El Camino 2
OCC 000 114 110 – 8 12 3
ECC 010 000 100 – 2 6 0
Vidro, Moran (7), Reta (9) and Delaney, Yelich (9); Alcala, Ahir (6), McMahan (8), Pordes (9) and Notch. W – Vidro, 5-3. L – Alcala, 4-5. 2B – Davis (OCC), Broussard (OCC), Iriart (OCC), Nulph (OCC).