McClain on his way to a triple. Photo by Andrew Roth.
McClain O’Connor is no stranger to putting out fires. Having served on a California firefighter helicopter support crew last summer, the rising junior at West Coast baseball powerhouse University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) has plenty of experience staying focused when the heat is on. That experience came in handy in the first game of the NYCBL Eastern Division Playoffs Tuesday evening on a wet Onondaga CC baseball field. With the Flames leading 2-1 in the top of the ninth inning, the Cortland Crush loaded the bases on a walk and two fielding errors caused by wet baseballs. After closer Keon Taylor struck out the next batter for out number one, the Crush sent up a pinch hitter who hit a sharp low line drive towards the hole between short and third base for what seemed like a sure game-trying base hit. The athletic O’Connor dove to his right and snatched the ball before it hit the turf for out number two and then threw to second base to nab the runner trying to return to the bag for out number three, for a dramatic double play to put out the fire and end the game.
The 5’10” 165 pound bundle of talent has great range, sure hands and a strong accurate arm. While McClain arrived late due to a previous personal commitment, he nevertheless, has made a strong record at the plate. In 64 at bats, he is slashing .328/.370/.531 with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs and 21 RBI’s. (Wood bat – no problem!)
McClain has been a big contributor to the Flames success this season.
Personal: Dell McClain O’Connor is the son of Kodee and Dell of Pioche, Nevada. He has two siblings: McKinley and Mitchell. He plans to major in sociology and aspires to be a firefighter. McClain roots for the Chicago Bulls, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Dodgers. He calls winning the state championship in his high school as his most memorable pre-UCSB sporting moment. Lists Remember the Titans as his favorite flick … Listens to the Red Hot Chili Peppers … Likes to hunt, fish, and go camping in his free time … Watches Sportscenter … His top read is Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed.