After receiving votes in this season’s first NCAA rankings from both Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association/D3Baseball.com, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team played four games at home last weekend. The Sagehens won just one of three against Whitworth University before dropping a game to Emory University of Atlanta on Sunday, for a 1-3 record kicking off the season, with conference play set to begin this weekend against rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Three losses this early in the season could stunt a team, but Michael Caldwell PZ ’17 said the team must use early setbacks for motivation.
“Sometimes it’s good to get knocked around a little bit,” he said. “I think we have a short memory as a team and will work hard this week to come out and start conference play with our hair on fire.”
One of the downfalls of the weekend for P-P was their pitching, which gave up 45 runs in the four games. Six different players took the mound in Sunday’s game against Emory.
The Sagehens lost game one 12-7 to the Whitworth Pirates on Friday and then lost the first game of their Saturday doubleheader against the Pirates 11-9.
Caldwell had his first career home run—a grand slam—in the last game of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon. The strong hit helped the Hens win the game 6-5, their first win of the season.
“It is very exciting and a relief to be able to contribute to the team,” said Caldwell, whose hitting effort brought home Jake Bruml PO ’15, Sam Fox PZ ’15, and Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16.
Pitcher David Gerics PO ’17 went seven innings and only gave up three runs to collect the win in his first collegiate start that day. After Gerics left the mound, reliever Kevin Kannappan PO ’16 continued P-P’s success, closing out the game with two innings of relief.
Continuing the busy weekend, the Hens geared up for a one-game series against the Emory Eagles on Sunday. Casey Hershfield PO ’17 made his first collegiate start for the Hens against the tough Eagles lineup.
Bruml offered some offensive spark for the Hens, going one for three with one RBI that day, but the Hens were plagued by three errors in the field and only collected seven hits to Emory’s 16, ultimately losing 17-2.
A positive outcome for the weekend was the Sagehens’ impressive hitting performance, seen in all four games. On top of Caldwell’s grand slam, Bruml supported the team with four RBI during the weekend, and Jackson Badger PZ ’14 had six hits over three games.
Coach Frank Pericolosi thought the weekend went well overall.
“It was a little bit of a wake-up call because we’ve had some success in the past,” he said. “I think it’s a wake-up call that you don’t just show up to the field and win, you got to go out and compete and execute and everybody needs to go out and do their jobs for us to beat good teams.”
After this rough start to the season, P-P is looking to rebound as they prepare for their first SCIAC series against CMS, which starts today with a doubleheader to follow tomorrow.
Heading into the rivalry weekend, P-P continues to emphasize good pitching and defense to earn solid wins throughout the season, and look to take this week to improve upon those aspects of their game.
“Our mentality has got to change a little bit to be able to compete for the full weekend and really get after it from a competitive standpoint,” Pericolosi said.
The Hens anticipate a tough game from the Stags, who have a record of 2-3 as they head into the regular season.
During practice this week, he said, “pitchers are going to throw bullpens and try to improve on what they did last week, same thing with hitters.”
The Sagehen baseball program, which finished second in SCIAC last season, is no stranger to success. The coaching staff and players are confident in their abilities to improve on the first weekend’s results.
“I think we have a lot of work to do, we kind of knew that either way [going into the weekend], whether we won or lost,” Pericolosi said.
The Sagehens and Stags will face off at 2:30 p.m. today at CMS before meeting for a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 11 a.m.