After waiting since last April to get back on the diamond, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team came as close as they possibly could to starting the season off with a win. In their first game of the season, the Sagehens tied NAIA opponent Westmont 7-7 last Friday in a closely contested game that featured four lead changes and a five-run offensive outburst by the Hens in the seventh inning. The Sagehens record now stands at 0-0-1 with their first SCIAC game slated for next week.
Despite having faced their starting pitcher two years ago, the Sagehens did not know what to expect going into the game against Westmont, which suited them just fine. According to third baseman James Campbell PO ’12, the Hens did not have a scouting report for Westmont, but instead “focused more on getting [them]selves ready in general as team rather than against a particular opponent.”
Captain Leo Rosetti PO ’12 stressed that the Hens knew they would be going up against a strong Westmont squad, even if they did not know much about specific players.
“What we did know is that they are a scholarship team so they are going to have a lot of talented guys,” Rosetti said after the game.
The game started out slowly for both teams, with one run scored between the two teams entering the sixth inning. That lone run came as Kyle Pokorny PO ’12 drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Sagehens the lead for the time being. Starter Travis Rooke-Ley PZ ’12 kept the Warrior offense off the scoreboard for the first five innings with the help of some great defense. In what would prove to be the play of the game, center fielder Erik Munzer PO ’13 stole a sure extra-base hit away from the Warrior clean-up hitter, leaping up the center-field fence to make a highlight-reel catch in the top of the fourth.
“It was pretty spectacular,” Rosetti said, “but we have kind of come to expect that from Munzer.”
The Warrior offense would finally get to Rooke-Ley in the sixth, scoring three runs to take a two-run lead. They would add to their lead in the seventh, but the Sagehen offense responded by putting five runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh, capped off by Jake Bruml PO ’15 and his RBI double to left center. Bruml would end up coming around to score on the play, thanks to some sloppy throwing by the Warrior defense.
The Warriors did not give in, however, and retook the lead in the eighth. The Hens were poised to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning, putting a runner in scoring position with only one out, but ultimately failed to capitalize. After Peter Klingman PZ ’13 pitched his way out of a jam to keep the deficit to one run, the Hens looked to tie it in the bottom of the ninth. Rosetti said the team stayed positive.
“I think there was just a sense of urgency. We knew that it was going to be our last chance and we needed to get something together. When [Nick] Gentili [PO ’15] got that single it boded well, and everyone started to get excited… We knew the game wasn’t over,” he said. After playing some small ball to get the runner in scoring position, Gentili scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
Unfortunately, the game ended as a tie with no extra innings due to the dwindling daylight.
“I wouldn’t say we were happy with the tie. We were happy with the ‘not-loss.’ Obviously we could have—and should have—gotten out of there with the win. Some things went our way, some things went their way,” Rosetti said.
In a lighter mood, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball program held its annual alumni game the following day and current players had a chance to meet some of the players that helped make the program the perennial SCIAC contender that it is today. Among the alumni present were David Colvin PZ ’11, Drew Hedman PO ’09, and James Kang PO ’10, who all currently play minor league baseball; Colvin plays in Seattle’s farm system while Hedman and Kang play for Boston.
“It was good for me because there were alums from all of my years that I had played here, good friends who you don’t get to see very often,” Campbell said after the game. “It’s also fun to play with 45-year olds who clearly haven’t played baseball since three years’ ago alumni game. ”
Rosetti added that the alumni game also served as preparation for the rest of the season, giving Coach Pericolosi a chance to try out players in different positions and give younger players a chance to get some play time. Despite the best efforts of the scorekeeper, there is no official word yet on which team won.
Following the alumni game, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team began preparing for their second official game of the year, a non-league match-up against the Whitworth Pirates that will be featured in next week’s article.