The Pomona-Pitzer baseball team stepped up big this past weekend. Knowing they needed to come out of the weekend with two wins to keep their hopes of a SCIAC title and automatic playoff birth alive, the Sagehens swept conference-leading La Verne and bottom-dwelling Caltech. The Sagehens have now won four games straight and stand at 23-12-1 on the season and 17-9 in SCIAC.
Over the past couple of weeks it seems like the Sagecocks have had one tough, must-win series after the next, and the trend certainly continued this past weekend. After La Verne took two out of three from the Hens earlier this season, P-P certainly knew they were going to have to play well to beat the Leopards. Fortunately for the Sagehens, they did just that. After the game, Mike Moyer PO ’13 emphasized the Hens’ optimism going into the game, despite the earlier losses.
“We knew offensively that we could score, and our pitching has been a lot better. I think that showed this weekend,” he said.
The Leopards jumped out to an early 1-0 lead by sticking to the fundamentals and, for the most part, shut down the Sagehen hitters for the first five innings. Things began to swing in favor of the Hens in the top of the sixth, however. Moyer, who has acted as a table-setter for the meat of the lineup for most of the season, got things rolling with a single to right-center with two strikes. Two batters later, the Sagehens took the lead with one stroke of the bat by James Campbell PO ’12, who has been on fire at the plate as of late. Campbell’s home run turned momentum in favor of the Hens and helped open the floodgates for the Hens.
“It was huge,” Moyer said. “Up to that point we really hadn’t gotten anything going off of that pitcher. From then on we were able to pile on some runs. James has been doing that for us all year.”
P-P would put two more runs on the board in the inning thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Jake Bruml PO ’15 and a defensive miscue by the Leopards. The Hens would put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth by scoring three more runs for a final score of 8-2.
Bruml had another great performance on the mound for the Hens, shutting the La Verne bats down for over five innings and allowing only one run. Bruml is now 6-0 on the season. Moyer has only positive things to say about Bruml after the game.
“He has been pitching well lately, as a freshmen, that’s even more impressive,” Moyer said.
Guy Stevens PO ’13 took over in relief in the sixth and picked up where Bruml left off. Stevens pitched almost four innings of one-run ball to pick up his fourth save of the season.
Saturday’s game against Caltech proved to be much easier than Friday’s matchup, but the Hens still approached it with a must-win attitude. P-P started out strong and put two runs on the board in their first at-bats. The Hens kept the offense going all game and cruised to a 16-1 victory over the Beavers in seven innings. Nine different players had RBIs in that game, and both Nick Gentili PO ’13 and Campbell blasted home runs to pace the Sagehen offense.
This weekend the Sagehens have two big games that could ultimately decide their playoff fate. Today at 3 p.m., P-P will take on the Redlands Bulldogs, the defending SCIAC Champions. Saturday, the Hens face off against Sixth Street rivals CMS in what may be a must-win game for P-P. Trailing first-place La Verne by two games, the Hens will have to win both games to even have a shot at a SCIAC title. They will also need a little help from La Verne’s opponents. La Verne only needs to win one of their games this weekend to secure the SCIAC championship. Even if the Hens do not lock up a share of the SCIAC title this weekend, there is still a chance they will make the NCAA playoffs through an at-large bid. Throughout the season the Sagecocks have had some big wins against top-tier programs, including Kean University, who was ranked second going into the game against P-P. Moyer thinks their playoff fate is largely in their own hands and remains optimistic.
“I think if we win both games we still have a shot,” he said.