The Sixth Street rivalry began early this season for the Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball teams, as the two squared off in the first weekend of conference play. The teams battled all weekend in a three-game series, of which the Sagehens won two. The Sagehens are now 3-4 on the year and 2-1 in SCIAC, while the Stags are 3-5 overall and 1-2 in conference.
The action began Feb. 14 in the lone game at CMS, which the Sagehens won 4-3. P-P relied on the hitting abilities of Tanner Nishioka PO ’17, who was three-for-five with two runs scored, and third baseman E.J. Lopez PZ ’15, who was three-for-four on the day with one home run and three RBIs. On the mound for the Hens was Jake Bruml PO ’15, who went seven innings and allowed just five hits, while recording five strikeouts in his first win of the season.
Stag pitcher Chad Hadzinsky CM ’14 had a successful outing. Although the Hens scored four runs during his five innings on the mound, none of the runs were earned.
Jack Witte CM ’16 was two-for-five and had a triple on the day. CMS head coach Randy Town emphasized the importance of timely hitting as a key to winning, as did P-P head coach Frank Pericolosi.
“[We need] to focus on having competitive at-bats,” Pericolosi said.
This importance was shown during the Feb. 14 game, when the Hens capitalized on a fielding error by the Stags in the first inning for the first run of the game. Their momentum continued to build as they scored three more unanswered runs in the fifth, bringing the score to 4-0.
In the eighth, the Stags were almost able to come back after capitalizing on two P-P walks. Two at-bats after a single from his brother, Scott Witte CM ’14 was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, sending Samuel Woodman HM ’16 across home plate for the Stags’ first run of the game.
A sacrifice fly by John Rizzo CM ’15 two at-bats later brought the score to 4-2, but ultimately, CMS could not muster any additional offense against the Sagehens. With one earned run across the final two innings, P-P closer Kevin Kannappan PO ’16 recorded his first save of the season.
The series continued on Feb. 15 with a doubleheader that was played at P-P’s Alumni Field. In the first game of the day, CMS won 11-7 in an exciting 10-inning affair. Rizzo pitched the first five innings and held P-P to only three runs, while Andor Kesselman CM ’14 pitched another five innings of relief, with a scoreless final inning for the win.
The Stags had offensive support from Michael Erb CM ’14, Ray Hurwitz HM ’14, and Evan Opperman CM ’17, who together combined for eight of the team’s 11 RBIs in the first game of the doubleheader. Mackenzie Menthen CM ’16 also boosted the Stags with his first home run of the season. With those 11 runs, it seemed that it was the Stags’ turn for timely hitting.
For the Hens, Nishioka and Bruml each had a home run in game one. The Hens scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie the score, and almost had a chance to win the game with bases loaded after an intentional walk to Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 in the ninth, but came up just short.
The Sagehens turned things around for game two on Feb. 15, winning 5-3 to split the day and take the series 2-1. Key pitching came from Lane Miles PO ’17 in his first collegiate start, as he threw seven innings and allowed only two runs, including a home run from Jack Witte in the first inning. Miles received plenty of offensive support, as Jackson Badger PZ ’14 hit a home run in the second, and Nishioka hit a home run in the third. Nishioka had an outstanding series, going five-for-10 with two home runs.
The Hens continued their offensive production as Timmy Novom PO ’15 had an RBI single to give the Sagehens a 4-3 lead, and later Lopez added another RBI single to give the Hens an insurance run. Kannappan threw a 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to record his second save for the weekend and the season.
Overall, Pericolosi was pleased with the Hens’ offensive output, but sees a lot of room for improvement.
“I think we definitely have the potential to score runs,” Pericolosi said. “We just need to keep working to get better.”
Despite their losses over the weekend, CMS remained positive after facing their rivals.
“We were able to play a lot of players in the series, and [we] gained insight into how they compete,” Town said.
Both the Hens and Stags are looking forward to the rest of their SCIAC play this season. The Hens play California Lutheran University at home on Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. before traveling to Cal Lutheran on Feb. 22 for a doubleheader. The Stags also have a home game on Feb. 21 against Whittier College at 2:30 p.m. before traveling to Whittier on Feb. 22 for a doubleheader on the road.