Sagehen baseball heads into 2023 with high expectations following historic 2022 run

A batter prepares for the coming pitch.
All-Region Sagehen JC Ng PO ’25 prepares to swing during a game in the 2022 season. (Abbey Liao • The Student Life)

As the Sagehens stepped up to the diamond in February of 2022 for their first game in nearly two years, players, coaches and fans had no clue they were in for one of the program’s best seasons in its history. Now entering 2023 ranked No. 2 in the SCIAC’s preseason poll, midnight has struck on Pomona-Pitzer (P-P)’s Cinderella story, and it should be immediately evident whether the glass spikes still fit.

Asserting themselves as the SCIAC’s hardest hitting offense, the Sagehens slugged and walked their way to a 32-14 record last season, their fifth 30-win season in team history and first berth in the NCAA DIII Regional Tournament since 2012. Through intense offseason training, including members of the squad competing on a summer-league team and heavy recruiting of a new first-year class, the Hens are poised to make another title run in 2023.

All-Region starting pitcher Jake Hilton PO ’25 described how much one season can change the perception of a program.

“We didn’t have many expectations coming into [last] season,” Hilton said. “This season we have a big target on our back.”

That target is due in large part to the Sagehens’ offense. P-P led the conference in runs scored, home runs hit, and team on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Despite this, their greatest strength may be their patience at the plate. Head coach Frank Pericolosi spoke on how his team topped the SCIAC in walks drawn.

“It’s definitely something we take pride in, being disciplined yet aggressive hitters,” Pericolosi said. “We talk about finding ways to get good pitches to hit in every at bat … When you have your best hitters as very disciplined hitters … it’s contagious.”

Center fielder David Bedrosian PZ ’23, who piloted this offensive onslaught of discipline with a .516 on-base percentage (OBP), drawing nearly a walk per game on his way to leading the conference in OPS, reflected on the changes he made during his breakout campaign.

“The biggest thing for me was walking into the cage every round with a plan,” Bedrosian said. “We’re hitters, we’re not swingers. It becomes really easy to control counts and get the pitches you want when you execute your plan.”

Although P-P’s performance in the batters box carried them to a hard-fought matchup against Chapman at Regionals, they were unable to match the Panthers’ dominance on the mound. Chapman’s rotation featured three of the SCIAC’s best four starting pitchers by earned run average (ERA), all of whom will be returning this season. 

The Sagehens finished just fourth in team ERA, but for a hurler like Hilton, this offseason has been a boon for development.

“[I’m] trying to get my velo[city] up. Trying to make better pitches and be more consistent with my misses, not wasting pitches … I want a better strikeout to walk ratio,” Hilton said. 


Even if P-P is able to solidify their pitching performance, Pericolosi explained in October they had an even greater area to focus on this offseason.

“We weren’t an elite defensive team by any means,” Pericolosi said. “Everybody knows pitching and defense wins championships … We have to be better defensively.”

The Hens found themselves far below any other competitive SCIAC program defensively, committing 85 errors in 46 games, including a league-leading 33 from shortstop Jimmy Legg PO ’25 alone. Even still, as a defensive leader, Bedrosian holds faith in his team.

“Our guys have been working really hard, especially in the infield they’re grinding every day. I’m very confident we’re gonna make improvements,” Bedrosian said.

Improvements can also come off the field. For Isaac Kim PO ’24, who was named the 2022 SCIAC Newcomer of the Year while slashing .379/.439/.662 last season, the path to achievement is largely mental.

“[I want to be] okay with not being perfect,” Kim said. “This is a game where you fail most of the time, and last year it kinda got to me when I didn’t have as much success as I wanted.”

Buying into offseason growth will likely be critical to P-P’s success this year. Some players took their dedication even further by playing for independent summer leagues.

Ethan Collins PO ’25, who pitched for the Syracuse Spartans of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, believes that playing summer ball will help him achieve his long term goals in the sport. 

“I’d like to take [baseball] as far as I possibly can, and [summer leagues] seemed like a good step to take,” Collins said.

For P-P athletes with hopes of playing at the next level, playing in summer leagues is a crucial step. Ryan Long PO ’21, who played for Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts, was recently drafted by the Baltimore Orioles organization. 

Playing for the Spartans also gave Collins a better understanding of what he needs to do to stay healthy as a pitcher during a long season.

“Summer ball…was a very big grind. You’re going game to game, you’re going no practices, just games … So going into the season, I’m going to use the experience I got … to make sure I can stay healthy,” Collins said.

Regardless, fatigue may not even become a factor due to reinforcements on the recruiting front. Coach Frank Pericolosi highlighted three first-years he expects to play a crucial role in the Sagehens’ success this season: shortstop William Kinney PZ ’26, designated hitter Donovan Crook PZ ’26 and starting pitcher Hannoh Seo PO ’26. 

The Sagehens have high expectations going into the season, with the ultimate goal of winning a national title. Bedrosian thinks this team has what it takes to make it to the Division III College World Series, held this year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

“[This year we want to] end the last game on a win…we’re coming in with the expectation to win,” Bedrosian said. 

The Hens opened their season last weekend with a sweep of Whitworth University, out scoring the Pirates 28-14. They take the field again this weekend in a three-game series against Willamette University, with games on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

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