After winning a great pitching duel in a home game Feb. 24, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team suffered two tough losses on Saturday to SCIAC foe Cal Lutheran. The Hens built early leads in both games but could not hold on to the lead for long enough in either, losing by one run each. The two losses lowered the Sagehens’ overall record to 7-3-1 and 6-3 in SCIAC, good enough for second in the SCIAC standings.
Going into the first game, both sides knew runs would definitely be hard to come by. Cal Lu sent Third-Team Pre-Season All-American Byron Minnich to the mound, who had shut down second-ranked Linfield a week earlier. The Sagehens countered with team ace Travis-Rooke Ley PZ ’12. Expectations were high for both pitchers, and both certainly rose to the occasion.
Coach Pericolosi said that going into the game, his team knew it was going to be a matchup of “two very good pitchers. I didn’t expect much offense on either side. We got kind of what we expected.”
Even though Rooke-Ley has already had a couple great pitching performances, this game was definitively his best outing this season, especially considering the Kingsmen’s pitcher. Rookey-Ley threw a complete game shutout, scattering five hits and striking out three in the process. The Kingsmen’s only real chances came in the third, when they got runners on second and third with two outs, and in the seventh, when Rooke-Ley hit a batter with a pitch and another pitch was caught by catcher Travis Bowers PO ’14 to allow the runner to get to second.
Pericolosi saw the game just as a continuation of Rooke-Ley‘s great pitching this season.
“He has been keeping the ball down very well and attacking hitters and not walking guys,” Pericolosi said. “Especially with two strikes, he has done a good job with his breaking ball and change-up…He is not making mistakes in clutch situations.”
The Sagehen offense would not let the great pitching performance go to waste, eventually getting to Minnich in the third inning. With Bowers on first thanks to a single up the middle, Erik Munzer PZ ’13 stepped up to the plate and gave the Sagecocks all the offense they would need with one swing. The two-run shot for Munzer was his first home run of the season. Nick Gentili PO’13, who would see his offensive production decline slightly in this series, added an insurance run in the eighth with a solo home run. Rooke-Ley struck out the final batter in the ninth to seal the 3-0 win for the Hens.
Saturday’s games proved to be just as closely contested as the opening game, with each game being decided by a single run. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Saghens broke out to an early three-run lead in the top of the first inning, thanks to a three-run shot to center by senior James Campbell. The Kingsmen fought their way back in to the game and eventually scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game after the Hens had taken a one-run lead in the top of the eighth. The second game of the day was another great pitching duel, with Guy Stevens PO ’13 toeing the rubber for the Hens. Unfortunately for the Sagecocks, the Kingsmen pitchers would prove yet again to be up to the challenge and hold the potent P-P offense to only two runs and get the 3-2 win.
After the series, Coach Pericolosi made it clear that the team was not disheartened by the two close losses whatsoever. Instead, he tried to get his team to take some positives away from series.
“We expected tough games going in,” Pericolosi said. “It’s tough to get to upset about those kinds of games where your guys are in it all the way until the last inning… The guys battled hard, they competed hard; I definitely like the way they went after the game. We just ended up on the losing side, unfortunately.”
The Sagecocks will have to rebound quickly, considering they are playing another tough SCIAC rival this weekend. The Hens open up their three-game series with Occidental on the road today, but then play a doubleheader at home tomorrow. The Hens are expecting another difficult battle from Oxy, who swept a three-game set from defending SCIAC champions Redlands earlier this season and just beat current SCIAC leader La Verne 14-3 in the final game of their series. The Sagehens will send Rooke-Ley to the mound today, hoping to get another quality start from the staff ace and start the series off with a win.