CMS Returns From No-Hitter, Splits with Occidental

 Deji Andrew HM ‘19 at bat against Occidental on March 23. (Tim Hernandez  • The Student Life)The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team (10-9, 4-3 SCIAC) had a busy weekend. On Friday, the team travelled to nearby Eagle Rock to play the Occidental College Tigers (16-8, 9-3 SCIAC). The Stags had a rough away game. They were no-hit in a 16-0 drubbing at the hands of the Tigers and pitcher Nolan Watson, who struck out six in a complete game shutout. On Saturday, both CMS and Occidental moved their series to Claremont to play a doubleheader and complete the three-game series.

After falling into a 4-0 hole two innings into Friday’s game, the Stags once again found themselves trailing early on in Saturday’s opener. Runs in the first two innings gave Occidental a 3-0 lead going into the bottom half of the third. Ryan Motter CM ’19 pointed out that the Stags could have lost hope at this juncture.

“After losing on Friday to them coming back and scoring early runs on Saturday could have kept our team energy down,” Motter said.

A ground ball single from Evan Opperman CM ’17 cut the deficit to two. Konnor Kwok CM ’17, who had struggled in the first two innings, settled down to throw three consecutive innings. Combined with two and two-third perfect innings from Cameron Cash CM ’20, the Stags were able to keep a potent Tigers offense at bay. Despite the strong pitching, Kwok gives credit to the offense.

"We also had some timely hitting to take over the lead," Kwok said.

Motter helped CMS chip away at the deficit by driving in one run in the bottom of the fifth inning with a groundout. The next inning, CMS tied the game via an RBI single to left field from CJ Novogradac CM ’19. The Stags continued to add multiple single run innings. Like previous games, the Stags scored by putting pressure on the opposition’s pitching and defense.

“By the time the seventh inning came around, we felt like we had the momentum to win the game,” Motter said.

In the seventh, the Stags loaded the bases with only one out. Henri Levenson CM' 20 drove in one run with a fielder’s choice. The scoring was completed by a solo home run in the eighth inning off of Motter’s bat.

“It felt great to help contribute to a fantastic team victory,” Motter said. “We were winning by one in the final inning versus a very good hitting team, so to increase our lead really changed the game psychologically for us.”

After their 5-3 win, the Stags fell behind early in game three of the series. A five-run second inning from the Tigers gave Occidental a comfortable cushion and that was all the scoring their pitchers needed. Three scoreless innings from Brandon Louie HM ’20 kept the score relatively close. Chase Eller CM ’17 provided the only scoring for the Stags with a fifth inning sacrifice fly, scoring Novogradac. From there, the Tigers' pitching tightened up and the Stags rarely threatened. Occidental won the game, 6-1, and clinched the series, two games to one.

This series’ results, along with a loss to the Williams Ephs in their final nonconference game of the season, leave CMS in fifth place in the SCIAC, which does represent some progress for the program.

“We are working to improve the culture of the team into a winning culture," Kwok said.

The Stags take on the Redlands Bulldogs on Friday, March 31, at home, before travelling to University of Redlands for a doubleheader the following day.