OCC Pirates sail to final CCCSIA Baseball #1 ranking

Orange Coast College finished #1 on the Final CCCSIA State Baseball Top 15 Rankings.
Orange Coast College finished #1 on the Final CCCSIA State Baseball Top 15 Rankings.

PASADENA - Orange Coast College secured eight first-place votes out of 16 and finished as the #1 team in the California Community College Sports Information Association 2021 Final State Top 15 Baseball Rankings.

With 226 total voting points, Orange Coast (20-7-1 overall) won yet another Orange Empire Conference title at 14-4 and was one of four teams in the state to achieve at least 20 victories despite an abbreviated season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's almost hard to believe but no state champions were crowned either in 2020 or 2021. The Pirates still have bragging rights on the last state title in 2019. 

OCC head coach Nate Johnson, who took over the program from the late John Altobelli, received OEC Coach of the Year honors while outfielder Cary Arbolida (.466 batting average, five home runs, 20 RBI) was conference MVP and Kelly Austin (6-0, 1.26 ERA) named OEC Pitcher of the Year. 

Butte (23-3) captured the Golden Valley Conference championship (all 26 games were played within the league) and garnered six first-place votes. The Roadrunners barely squeaked its #2 ranking over #3 Sequoias (207-205 points), a team that finished a strong 23-5 and grabbed the Central Valley Conference title thanks to a 20-4 record v. league opponents.

Ohlone (20-6) won its 20th game on June 3 over Monterey Peninsula, 11-4, and settled for #4 in the state poll. However, MPC rolled to a season-ending, doubleheader sweep over the Renegades, 3-0 and 4-3, on June 5. This allowed the Lobos to climb three spots, finish 17-7 and achieve a #11 final ranking. MPC pitchers were solid on the season's last day with Ryan Platero hurling a complete-game, 7-inning, 2-hit shutout, then Joe Murphy allowing just one hit and no runs over six innings for the bookend DH victory. Offensively in the finale, MPC shortstop Nico Hartojo slugged a 3-run homer in the eighth inning and it was an important drive because Ohlone's Logan Cole blasted a 3-run jack of his own in the ninth that made it close. There were no Coast Conference champions crowned due to differing schedules for the member teams that opted in to play a season. Ohlone did have the best winning percentage of any Coast team. 

A Cinderella story are the squads that finished #5 and #6 in the poll. Allan Hancock (18-6) from the Western State North Division remained in the #5 spot while Los Medanos (18-3-1) 15-2-1 in-league record gave the Mustangs the Bay Valley Conference crown and a #6 final ranking. 

A 19-7 record allowed Cabrillo to jump a spot and take #7 in the rankings while Cypress, the second-place team from the OEC and 16-12 overall fell a bit to #8. Bakersfield (18-7) at #9 and Feather River (19-9), the second-place team from the GVC, rounded out the top 10 at #10.

After surprising Monterey Peninsula, Orange Empire third-place Santa Ana moved up a spot to #12, showing again the respect for the difficult schedule of that Southern California conference. The Big 8 Conference played a more limited schedule than a number of opt-in colleges, but the long-time respect for its members resulted in Sacramento City (11-3-1) scoring a #13 rank while Santa Rosa (12-6) dropped four slots but stayed on the poll at #14. Mt. San Antonio played as an independent despite in fact replacing Riverside CC (opted out) on the Orange Empire schedule but the South Coast Conference member held its own to finish 15-13 overall and snag a #15 final ranking. 

Ten Northern California teams doubled the five from the South on the poll, which made sense since 35 of the 52 opt-in colleges were from up North. 

The following are the state individual statistical leaders for the 2021 season: 

Batting Champion: BJ Vela, Reedley, .481
Home Runs: Andrew Valdez, Sequoias; Grady Morgan, Butte, 10
Runs Batted In: Morgan, Butte, 41
Doubles: Donte Valdez, Sequoias, 16
Triples: JR Godinez, Ventura; Rafael Gutierrez, Lassen; Kodai Yaoita, San Mateo, 4
Runs Scored: Vela, Reedley, 47
Hits: Payton Allen, Sequoias, 52
Stolen Bases: Norman Leon, Ohlone, 23
Walks: Adrian Flores, Cabrillo, 27
On-Base Percentage: (minimum 20 games): Vela, Reedley, .560
Slugging Percentage: Morgan, Butte, .856
TEAM BATTING: Sequoias, .360 BAVG

Earned Run Average Champion: Matthew Lozovoy, Marin, 1.11 (40.2 IP)
Wins: Bryce Armstrong, Butte; Tanner Fonoti, Napa Valley; Anthony Torres, Sequoias; Cooper Vasquez, Ohlone, 7
Innings Pitched: Kody Cardoza, Merced, 53
Strikeouts: Tyler Stultz, Ohlone, 63
Saves: James Freisen, Sequoias, 8
Appearances: Anthony Betancourt, Ventura, 20

CCCSIA 2021 State Top 15 Final Baseball Rankings #4, June 10

Rank School Record Poll Points  Last Week's Rank
1. Orange Coast  20-7-1  226  1
2. Butte  23-3  207  2
3. College of the Sequoias  23-5  205  4
4. Ohlone  20-6  193  3
5. Allan Hancock  18-6  156  5
6. Los Medanos  18-3-1  134  6
7. Cabrillo  19-7  130  8
8. Cypress  16-12  124  7
9. Bakersfield  18-7  102  9
10. Feather River  19-9    79 11
11. Monterey Peninsula  17-7    69 14
12. Santa Ana  15-12-1    68 13
13. Sacramento City  11-3-1    65 12
14. Santa Rosa JC  12-6    64 10
15. Mt. San Antonio  15-13    30 15

Others: Mt. San Jacinto 20, Merced 14, San Mateo 12, Saddleback 5, Golden West 4, Canada 3, Cosumnes River 3, Napa Valley 3, Irvine Valley 2, Ventura 2 

 (Release/Poll written and edited by Robert Lewis, CCCSIA)