While many students were still getting back into the swing of things after a weeklong spring break, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team took to the diamond March 19 to face the second-ranked team in the nation. The Sagehens proved to be up to the challenge, beating the Kean University Cougars 4-2 in a great pitchers’ duel. After that game and seven other games over the break, the Sagehens now stand at 12-9-1 overall on the season and 8-7 in SCIAC.
The Sagecocks started off their spring break with a three game set against the first-place team in SCIAC, the La Verne Leopards, March 10. In the first game of the series, the Hens lost 9-8 after wasting a two-run lead in the bottom of the tenth inning. After losing the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, P-P turned things around and got a 10-4 home win to avoid the sweep.
After a couple of days off, the Sagehens returned to the diamond March 16 for the California Invitational. The Invitational included teams from all across the country. The Hens opened the weekend against 20th-ranked Ithaca and had high hopes going into the game, especially considering they were sending staff ace Travis Rooke-Ley PZ ’12 to the mound. Despite jumping out to an early three-run lead in the first, the Bombers would ultimately get the 9-5 win, thanks to some costly errors by the Sagehen defense. The win was the thousandth career win for Ithaca head coach George Valestente.
The Sagecocks would go on to beat Rutgers-Newark 9-6 in their second game on Friday but would have to wait until March 25 to get back on the field due to rain. On Sunday, the Sagehens earned a tough-fought split in the double-header. After pitching six and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball, Jake Bruml PO ’15, who also had the only RBI in that game, gave up the tying run in the bottom of the seventh on a solo home run, forcing extra innings. Puget Sound ended the game with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
The second game of the day would also end in dramatic fashion but this time in favor of the Sagecocks. The Sagehens tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a clutch piece of hitting by James Campbell PO ’12 and won the game in walk-off fashion the next inning off of a sacrifice fly to left field by Erik Munzer PO ’13, scoring EJ Lopez PZ ’15 from third.
The highlight of the past week of baseball for the Sagehens, however, was surely their 4-2 victory over the now fourth-ranked team in the nation. Going into the game, the Hens knew they had a difficult challenge in front of them, especially considering the Cougars were sending Kevin Herget to the mound, who was 3-0 on the season and had not surrendered any runs in his first 24 innings of work.
The Sagecocks were able to get to Herget, however, in the sixth on a two-run shot over the center field fence by Campbell, giving the Sagehens their first lead of the game. Campbell has been on an offensive hot streak as of late, going 4-5 against Rutgers-Newark—including two home runs—and going 4-4 with four RBIs in the second game against Puget Sound. Munzer added some insurance runs for the Hens in the seventh, hitting a two-out single through the 5-6 hole to bring in Travis Bowers PO ’14 and Mike Moyer PO ’13. Bowers led the team with three hits in the game—two of them doubles—and scored what proved to be the winning run.
With a three-run lead, things got interesting in the top of the ninth for P-P. After Lopez made a great leaping catch on a line drive by the leadoff hitter and the next batter fled to right for the second out of the inning, the Cougars got something going, thanks to an error on a much easier groundball to Lopez. The next batter reached on a walk, and the bases were loaded after an infield single. Pitcher Leo Rosetti then walked in a run, putting the tying run in scoring position. Rosetti buckled down, however, and got the next batter to bounce a groundball to first-year second baseman Mark Okuma, who tossed it to shortstop Sam Fox PZ ’15 for the final out of the game, sealing the victory for the Hens.
The Sagehens get back to work today at 3 p.m. at home against a very tough Chapman team. Chapman, although ineligible to win SCIAC this season (their first year in the league) is a perennial powerhouse and will certainly test the Sagehens. The final two games in the series will be played tomorrow at Chapman.