Behind a lock-down pitching performance by Travis Rooke-Ley PZ ’12 and great plate discipline by the offense, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team put a whopping on the Whitworth Pirates, ending the game with a final score of 19-2.
“They had a major disadvantage because their field is under a couple feet of snow right now, while we have had the last month to prepare,” said second baseman Kyle Pokorny PO ’12 after the game. “They were a good hitting team and they will do well down the stretch once they tighten up their defense.”
The powerful Sagehen team improved their record to 1-0-1 with the win, entering today’s SCIAC play undefeated.
One sign that the two teams were more evenly matched than they seemed was that going into the fifth inning the score was only 3-0 in favor of the Sagecocks, a lead that was due in large part to defensive miscues by the Pirates rather than great hitting by the Hens. Of the nineteen runs the Sagehen offense put on the board, only three were unearned, but two of those unearned runs came early on and helped the momentum swing in the direction of the Hens.
The Sagehen offense put the game out of reach in the fifth when they exploded for 11 runs, but not without help from the Pirate pitching staff. The Sagecocks only got five hits in the inning, but took advantage of the seven walks, including three hit batsmen, that the Whitworth pitchers surrendered. Nick Gentili PO ’13, who led the team with three RBIs, was hit by a pitch twice in the same inning, a rare feat.
“There were guys just working at bats, our pitch selection was better… In that inning we refocused, got our leadoff hitter on, and then everything fell in to place from there,” Pokorny said.
The Sagehens added to their lead in both the seventh and eighth innings, including a three-run monster shot by Gentili over the right field fence in the eighth. After a season where offensive production was meager for long stretches, this offensive outburst can only be a good sign and should give the Sagehen hitters confidence going into the rest of the season. More importantly, the huge lead gave coach Frank Pericolosi a chance to play some different players in different positions, give older players some rest, and give younger players a chance to prove themselves before the starting positions are finalized.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Sagehens fared just as well, if not better, than they did on offense. In his second game of the year, starting pitcher Travis Rooke-Ley had his first great outing of the season, picking up his first win in the process. In five innings of work, Rooke-Ley only gave up one run while striking out seven and allowing no walks.
“He neutralized their hitters for the first five innings… Rooke just shut them down,” Pokorny said of the performance.
Rooke-Ley has certainly set the bar high for the season and, hopefully, will be able to retain his form as the Sagehens move into SCIAC play.
This weekend the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team will play a three-game series against SCIAC opponent Whittier, a team the Sagehens should be able to beat if they play to their full potential. Unlike years past, this year’s team has no true superstars but will instead rely on strong team play to be successful. From upperclassmen—like James Campbell PO ’12, Erik Munzer PZ ’13, Gentili and Rooke-Ley—to underclassmen—like Travis Bowers PO ’14 , Jake Bruml PO ’15 and Sam Fox PZ ’15—a multitude of players will have to step up this year and play well if the team is going to be successful and reach their goal of winning a SCIAC championship. The Sagehens will face a lot of tough competition in their quest for a SCIAC title where it always seems to be a dog fight for the top spot in the conference. This season, there are at least four teams that have a real shot at winning the title, not including perennial powerhouse Chapman (who is ineligible to win SCIAC during their first year in the league). The Sagehens will get their first opportunity to see where they stand in SCIAC this weekend in their three-game series against the Whittier Poets.