It would be nearly impossible to start a season out any better than the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team did this past weekend. After a rain delay forced the last two innings of Friday’s season opener to be finished on Saturday, the Sagehens beat Pacific University three times that same day and downed Whitworth University, the fifth-ranked team in Division III in the preseason polls. This gave the Hens a 4-0 start to the season by Sunday.
Going into the weekend, the Sagehens knew they had a tough series ahead of them.
“We didn’t really know much about [the Pacific University players], but we knew they were the co-conference champs last year, so we knew they were going to have some talent,” Nick Gentili PO ’13 said of the P-P team’s attitude going into the series.
The story of Friday’s game against Pacific University for the Sagehens was the pitching performance of sophomore Jake Bruml PO ’15. Bruml started out the game with two consecutive strikeouts and retired the side in order, setting the tempo of the game early on and bringing momentum quickly into the Sagehens’ favor. Bruml continued his dominance, hitting his spots, painting the corners the entire game, and striking out seven Boxers while only giving up two hits and one run over six and a third. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning but gave up a line-drive single through the 5-6 hole after retiring the first batter of the inning. The Boxers took advantage of the opportunity, and the very next batter drove a ball down the third-base line to get runners at second and third with one out. The Boxers scored their only run of the game on the following play with a sacrifice fly to right field. Guy Stevens PO ’13 then came in to pitch for the Hens and ended the Boxer rally.
After a hailstorm delayed the game until the next day, Stevens picked up where he and Bruml had left off, allowing no more runs over the final two innings and wrapping up the 3-1 win.
Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 was not at all surprised by Bruml’s great performance on the mound.
“Bruml is our guy. He has been there before, and he is who we turn to as a guy we can count on,” he said. Bruml also got what would prove to be the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly in the third, adding to the 1-0 Sagehen lead that came thanks to an RBI double by Mike Moyer PO ’13 in the first inning.
After finishing the first game of the series Saturday morning, the Hens played two more games that were part of the regularly scheduled doubleheader for that day. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Hens held on for a 4-3 victory, due in large part to a 4-4 game at the plate by Gentili and two RBIs from Bruml. The final game of the day was a higher scoring affair, and the Hens outpaced the Boxers for the 8-4 win. Bruml again led the team in RBIs—this time with three—and Rosenbaum in his collegiate start went 4-4, including his first career Rosen-“bomb” home run.
The challenging weekend continued for the Hens on Sunday as they squared off against the preseason number-five team according to D3Baseball.com’s rankings.
“Whitworth had a phenomenal year last year, making it to the College World Series. So we knew they had some talent,” Gentili said after the game. “We just wanted to stay focused and have good intensity going into it.” Just like in their previous three games, the Hens were up to the challenge, and yet another great pitching performance led the team to victory.
While many fans might have been shocked not only that the Hens turned to a freshman to face the strong Pirates squad, but also that he virtually shut down their offense for seven innings, P-P players were not the least bit surprised by Rosenbaum’s outing.
“I wasn’t too surprised because in our inner squads that we have had this fall and going into the spring, what always struck me was his composure,” Gentili said about Rosenbaum’s outing after the game.
Rosenbaum pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, giving up only three hits and striking out three. Drew Helgren PO ’14 took over for Rosenbaum, securing the two-inning save and the 5-0 victory.
“I was for the most part able to get ahead of guys, and then we just played really great defense behind me. That gives you the confidence to just attack guys,” Rosenbaum said after the victory.
There is little time for the team to celebrate their strong start, however, because they open up SCIAC play this weekend against their Sixth Street rivals, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
“We go into every game wanting to have 100 percent focus and just be ready to get wins and play our best,” Gentili said. “But against CMS especially, we have a little bit of extra incentive to win the game, so we should be pretty ready.”
P-P plays at home today at 2:30 p.m. and a doubleheader tomorrow at CMS starting at 11:00 a.m.