After losing in the first two games against the California Lutheran University Kingsmen this past weekend, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team was able to hold on for the win in the final game of the series and avoid the sweep by their SCIAC rivals. The Sagehens now stand 8-2 overall on the season and 4-2 in SCIAC, and they are currently second place in the conference.
Last year, the SCIAC title came down to a close race between the University of La Verne, Cal Lutheran, and P-P, with first, second, and third place each separated by a single game, so the Hens knew they had a touch matchup on their hands with the Kingsmen.
“They are one of the teams we knew would be returning a lot of good guys, so we figured they would be our major competition,” closer Robert Weller PO ’14 said of Cal Lutheran.
The Sagehens seemed up to the challenge early on. In the first game, the Sagehens jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth after Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 hit a two-run double to right center. Catcher Travis Bowers PO ’14 followed that up with an RBI single to bring in Rosenbaum from second. The Kingsmen responded by scoring three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Cal Lutheran wasn’t done there, however. They scored eight more runs over the next three innings, breaking the game open and eventually closing out the 11-3 win. The Hens missed numerous chances to put runs on the board and stay in the game. In total, P-P left 10 runners on base.
The same pattern repeated itself in the first game on Saturday. P-P again gained an early 2-0 lead, and once again a Rosenbaum RBI double opened up the scoring for the Hens. Just like in the first game, the Kingsmen answered with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth inning. The game would stay close until the eighth, when the Kingsmen broke out for six runs and a 10-3 lead. The Sagehens eventually lost 11-5, once again missing a couple of opportunities to keep themselves in the game and leaving eight runners on base.
“We had a lead in every game, and there were just a lot of little things that got away from us. We didn’t capitalize,” Weller said after the game.
In the final game of the three-game set, the Sagehens finally bucked the trend. Mike “Money” Moyer PO ’13 started off the game on the right foot for the Hens, hitting a lead-off bomb. P-P added to their lead the next inning, scoring two runs on RBIs by Sam Fox PZ ’15 and Erik Munzer PO ’13. The big break for the Sagehens came in the home half of the third, when Mark Okuma PZ ’15 hit a two-RBI single that brought home both Rosenbaum and E.J. Lopez PZ ’15, who had hit an RBI single earlier in the inning. The Hens held a 6-0 lead going into the fourth, but the Kingsmen would make it interesting, scoring three runs in their half of the fourth.
Trying to avoid the comeback losses they suffered in the first two games, the Hens entered the eighth inning with a 7-3 lead. After the first two hitters of the inning reached base, Coach Frank Pericolosi turned to Weller to take over for Rosenbaum, who had pitched seven innings and had given up no earned runs.
Coming in to close, Weller followed Rosenbaum’s example. Despite giving up a run-scoring single to the first batter he faced, he proceeded to set down the final three batters of the inning in order, preserving the three-run lead for the Hens. In the ninth, Weller easily got the final three outs of the game, securing the important 7-4 win for P-P. Weller now has four saves on the season and has still not given up any earned runs. He attributes his success so far to his attitude on the mound.
“You just have to have a lot of confidence. Trust the stuff; don’t let the situation get to you,” Weller said.
The Sagehens will have to rebound quickly as they prepare to face off against another strong SCIAC foe this weekend. Weller emphasized that the Hens will approach the series against the University of Redlands just as they would in any other matchup.
“We have the same game plan going into every series. Do everything right, continue to improve, and don’t get complacent,” he said.
The Hens play Redlands this Friday at home with first pitch slated for 2:30 p.m. On Saturday, P-P will hit the road and play a doubleheader to finish off the series.