Playing four games over four days this past week, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team won two out of three against the formerly SCIAC-leading Whittier College Poets and then followed up that strong performance with a non-league victory over the visiting Ithaca College Bombers 16-11 on Monday. The Sagehens now sit in a tie for second place with Chapman University in SCIAC with an 8-4 conference record and a 13-4 record overall.
Entering the weekend, the Sagehens had high expectations for themselves. Knowing they had a chance to displace the leading team in SCIAC, they couldn’t take the Poets lightly.
“Any time you are playing the first-place team, you can’t go in expecting an easy weekend,” left fielder Mike Moyer PO ’13 said.
The Sagehens certainly seemed to come out focused and ready to make that goal a reality in the first game of the series. After Moyer scored on a sacrifice fly by Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 in the first inning, the Sagehens opened up their lead in the fourth with a four-run outburst. The highlight of the inning was a three-run bomb by Nick Gentili PO ’13. The Hens continued to add to their lead over the next few innings. In the bottom of the seventh, Rosenbaum hit a two-run double to right center, ending the game 10-0 in yet another mercy rule victory for P-P this season.
The Sagehens’ great playing didn’t just happen at the plate, however. Sophomore ace Jake Bruml PO ’15 pitched yet another great game for P-P. After a somewhat shaky start last weekend against University of Redlands, Bruml returned to his true form against the Poets, getting the seven-inning complete game shutout.
Bruml is one of the many players on this team that have stepped up for the Hens in clutch situations so far this season. Moyer credited that partly to the nature of the game, but also to the true depth of this Sagehen roster.
“I think baseball lends itself to that style of team because even the best hitter in the league can have an 0-4 game,” Moyer said. “It is nice to have a bunch of guys who you know could break out at any point and win the game for you.”
“Overall, when different players have been struggling, others find a way to pick them up,” catcher Travis Bowers PO ’14 added.
On Saturday, the bats were much quieter for the Hens, but the strong pitching and defense definitely carried over. First-year starter Cameron Yen PZ ’16 followed up Bruml’s strong outing with an impressive performance of his own in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. After giving up a run in the first, Yen found his groove and shut down the Poets’ bats for the rest of the game on his way to a one-run complete game and his third win of the season.
At the plate, P-P would get all the runs it needed in the top of the fifth on a two-run double to center by Rosenbaum. Gentili would add an insurance run in the top of the eighth on an RBI double of his own.
The final game of the series proved to be much tougher for the Hens, despite the fact that they had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. After another solid outing by a first-year starter—Rosenbaum’s two-run, seven-inning performance—the bullpen wasn’t able to hold the lead and gave up two runs in the eighth due to some untimely walks by the P-P pitching staff. The Poets hung on for the 4-3 win.
“We are really playing well as a team but still have a lot of areas we need to improve in and be a more consistent team in general if we are to get where we want to be at the end of the season,” Bowers said after the loss.
In a rare Monday affair, the Sagehens came out ready to redeem themselves against an Ithaca squad visiting Southern California for an eight-game road trip. Unfortunately, things didn’t go the Hens’ way early in the game, and Ithaca jumped out to a 7-1 lead. The Sagehens quickly responded and fought their way back into the game.
“After going down 7-1, we were a little bit fired up from losing our last game,” Moyer said of the team’s attitude after falling behind. “It was nice to see that, getting down big early, we didn’t roll over but instead used it as extra motivation to fight back.”
The Hens would more than make up for the six-run deficit and edged out the Bombers for the 16-11 victory. Multiple P-P players had RBIs, and eight different players scored. Bowers paced the team with four RBIs, three of which came on a clutch double in the fifth inning during the Hens’ seven-run inning. Pitching-wise, the scorecard proved to be one of the most interesting in recent memory as seven different pitchers took the mound for P-P, none of them lasting more than two innings. Ultimately, Drew Helgren PO ’14 would pick up his first win of the season.
Picking up with SCIAC play, P-P faces off against the strong Chapman squad this weekend. The Hens travel to Chapman for a 3 p.m. matchup on Friday and then play the final two games of the series at home on Saturday.