This past weekend, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team took two out of three games against SCIAC rival Occidental College to set itself up with a shot to secure the second seed in the SCIAC tournament. The Sagehens now have a 17-7 record in conference and a 24-11 record overall.
The Occidental Tigers always seem to play the same style against the Hens, and this year the Sagehens certainly knew what to expect.
“They love to run; they are a very small-ball oriented team,” pitcher Colin Majev PO ’13 said. According to Majev, the team prepared with that in mind. As Oxy’s running game was largely held in check throughout the series, it seemed that the preparation paid off.
The Tigers did, however, use small ball to jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning in Friday’s series opener. The Hens responded a few innings later with their own style of offense. After Jake Bruml PO ’15 reached base on an error, Erik Munzer PZ ’13 brought him home from second with an RBI double to tie the score. The very next batter, third baseman E.J. Lopez PZ ’15, lined a double of his own into the left-center field gap, scoring Munzer for what would prove to be the wining run. Bruml made sure those two runs held up. After giving up the lone run in the first, he shut down the Oxy offense for the rest of the game and collected his seventh win of the season without walking any batters en route to the complete game victory.
Of course, Bruml got some help from his defense when it counted most. With two outs in the top of the ninth and the tying run on first for the Tigers, an Oxy batter drove a ball past the diving glove of third baseman Lopez. As the Oxy runner hurried around the bases, left field Mike Moyer PO ’13 cut the ball off before it could reach the wall and made a perfect throw to shortstop Sam Fox PZ ’15. Fox then made another perfect throw to catcher Jackson Badger PZ ’14 just in time to nail the runner at the plate and end the game with the one-run lead intact for the Hens.
The second game of the series would also test the Hens’ fortitude as it too came down to the wire. P-P jumped out to an early lead, thanks to a two-run shot by Bruml down the left-field line. Oxy put up a run of their own in the third to get within one, but things remained relatively quiet for both sides until the bottom of the ninth.
After taking over for starter Stuart Gano PZ ’13, who pitched five innings of one-run ball, Majev started his fourth inning of relief by striking out the leadoff hitter looking. Oxy was not done yet, eventually loading the bases with two outs with their leadoff hitter back at the plate.
“This is my end guy; this is the guy I have to get. It was Hong, one of their best hitters, and if you make a mistake, he is going to hurt you,” Majev said when asked what he was thinking in that sitution. “So my number-one thing was, again, get ahead and then dictate the whole plate appearance. Once I did that I was able to relax and know that I had him.” Majev elicited an easy grounder to shortstop, who threw to second for the force out. Majev collected the rare four-inning save.
P-P couldn’t keep the ball rolling in the final game of the series, and Oxy came out hot at the plate. They would eventually cruise to a 14-4 victory.
While the Sagehens might have hoped for a sweep going into the weekend, the two wins still helped them move closer to their goal of a SCIAC championship.
“I think … the most important thing this series did was [it] locked us into the two seed for the SCIAC round robin. Now we need two wins to lock in the number-two seed for the tournament as well,” Majev said.
In a new twist for SCIAC baseball, there will be a series of round-robin games this week that will help determine seeding for the inaugural SCIAC tournament before the SCIAC champion is crowned next week. The Sagehens began round-robin play this past Wednesday on the road against Caltech, easily beating the Beavers 11-1.
The Sagehens are back in action tomorrow at Occidental and will then return home for a Sunday doubleheader. The first game begins at 11 a.m. against University of La Verne, and the second game is slated for a 3 p.m. start against Whittier College. The Sagehens will need only one win in these three games to lock up the second seed in the SCIAC tournament.