The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (3-8, 2-4 SCIAC) continued their season with another busy weekend, dropping all four games to two separate opponents. The Hens played defending SCIAC champion California Lutheran University (4-1) in game one of a three-game series at home on Friday, Feb. 21 at Alumni Field, and then traveled to Cal Lutheran for two more games on Saturday. P-P lost all three games in the slugfest with Cal Lutheran before welcoming George Fox University (10-1) from Newberg, Ore. in a one-game challenge on Sunday to conclude the weekend.
Although the Hens were outscored 49-21 over the weekend, there are quite a few hitters who have come up big for P-P when needed so far this season. Last week’s TSL Sagehen of the Week Tanner Nishioka PO ’17 has been making waves with a .386 batting average and team-leading eight RBI. E.J. Lopez PZ ’15 has a .417 batting average, and follows Nishioka with seven RBI in five games. Although the Hens have these standouts, they are definitely still in need of more run support. This past weekend, their opponents had a .332 batting average and scored an average 9.9 runs per game, while P-P had a .276 team average with just 6.0 runs per game.
Led by some clutch hitting, the Hens made a surging comeback in Friday’s game against Cal Lutheran before the game was called due to lost daylight following the eighth inning, halting P-P’s comeback. Initially losing by a score of 19-7 entering the eighth inning, P-P came roaring back with eight runs.
Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 got things going for the Hens in the eighth with a double, which Coleman Lukas PZ ’14 followed up with a walk. A single by Sam Fox PZ ’15 loaded the bases. RBI singles from Timmy Novom PO ’15 and Travis Bowers PO ’14 brought the score to 19-13. The Hens then drew three of their four walks in the inning, adding two more runs on the board. The game, however, ended an inning short due to the darkness in a 19-15 loss for P-P.
Nishioka was two-for-three on the day, with a leadoff home run, two walks with bases loaded in the eighth inning, and four total RBI. Jackson Badger PZ ’14 also had one home run during the fourth inning.
“We just tried to stay disciplined at the plate and have good at-bats,” Nishioka said. “We had a good inning coming back, but unfortunately we came up a bit short.”
On Saturday, the Hens traveled to Cal Lutheran for a doubleheader to conclude the series. Although game one that day ended in a 3-0 loss for P-P, pitcher Lane Miles PO ’17 had another great showing. Miles pitched a complete game while only allowing two earned runs in the eighth inning. The game was a true pitchers’ duel, as Cal Lutheran’s Tyler Hebda allowed only four P-P hits. One of the hits came from Nishioka in the form of a double followed by a stolen base, his third of the season. Other hits came from Jake Bruml PO ’15, Kevin Brice PO ’16, and Fox.
In game two of the doubleheader, David Gerics PO ’17 started and pitched two innings in the 15-5 loss. He was followed on the mound by Drew Helgren PO ’14, who threw four innings in relief. On offense, Rosenbaum, the designated hitter, led the way for the Hens with two hits and two RBI. Bowers and Nishioka also had one RBI each.
The Hens returned to Alumni Field on Sunday for one game against George Fox University. Pitcher Casey Hershfield PO ’17 took the loss in the 12-1 result. Rosenbaum, who had two doubles and one RBI, led the P-P offense for the second game in a row, and Coleman Lukas PZ ’14 also had a double.
The P-P baseball team is no stranger to success in the SCIAC and NCAA tournaments, so these early setbacks are being taken in stride. From the Sagehens’ point of view, playing tough competition in the early part of the season only prepares them to be stronger competitors later.
“This past weekend was a good barometer of how we stack up against some top-notch competition, and showed us that we aren’t where we need to be just yet,” Bruml said. “We need to put in the hard work to become the team we are capable of being so that we can beat these top-ranked teams in the postseason.”
The Hens will be looking for everyone to step up and be successful as individuals and as a team when they challenge Chapman University, the third-place team in the SCIAC standings. They take on the Panthers at home on Friday, Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m., and then travel to Chapman to play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 1 beginning at 11 a.m.