A series of rain delays pushed the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team to an unusual Sunday-Monday game schedule March 2-3. The rain, however, did not faze the Sagehens, who came well-prepared to square off against the University of Redlands Bulldogs in the three-game series that started with a doubleheader on Sunday. P-P won the series 2-1, pushing their SCIAC record to 4-5 and leaving their overall record at 5-9.
Coming off a string of losses against California Lutheran University and George Fox University, the team headed into the weekend looking to clean up its record.
“We knew we were coming off a tough weekend—getting swept by Cal Lu and getting beat by George Fox, who were both good teams—and we were really looking to turn it around,” Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 said.
The team did just that on Sunday, coming out of the gates in full force. The Sagehens swept both Sunday games by wide margins and proved that, offensively, the team meant serious business.
The visiting Sagehens began the first game with impressive discipline at the plate, as leadoff hitter Sam Fox PZ ’17 drew a walk, which was followed by another walk for Coleman Lukas PZ ’17. This paved the way for Rosenbaum, who spent the day dominating the Redlands pitching staff, to come through with a two-run double and give the Sagehens a refreshing early lead.
P-P stretched the lead in the second inning, as Rosenbaum came to the plate again, this time with the bases loaded and two outs. He hit a three-run double to bring the lead to 6-0, setting a tone for the day’s strong offensive showing. In the fourth inning, Rosenbaum hit a sacrifice fly for his sixth RBI of the game, and in the seventh he hit a two-run home run to bring the lead to 10-3.
“Rosenbaum had an unbelievable Sunday,” head coach Frank Pericolosi said. “One of the best days that I’ve seen since I’ve been here in my 12 years. He was just on time on everything—every ball was hit hard. He looked great at the plate, very confident, and he didn’t try to do too much. He stayed through the middle of the field.”
Pitcher Jake Bruml PO ’14 also had a successful day, keeping Redlands’ notoriously strong lineup to just three runs in six innings. In the seventh inning, Redlands began to stage a comeback, but closer Kevin Kannapan PO ’16 came in to shut down any hope for a Bulldog upset. He pitched just under three innings of scoreless baseball, earning himself the save, and the Sagehens an 11-7 victory.
During game two, the spotlight was on pitcher Lane Miles PO ’17, who had a strong showing on the mound and kept the Bulldogs to a paltry three runs in seven innings.
Complementing Miles’ steady pitching was a dominating offensive performance. Tanner Nishioka PO ’17 finished with four RBIs, Fox went two-for-three with three runs scored, and Kevin Brice PO ’16 went two-for-four with two runs scored to help the Sagehens close the game on the mercy rule 14-4.
Rosenbaum attributed the day’s success to the team’s collective effort.
“Our energy was good from the beginning, and everybody’s role was important to the team,” he said. “Our guys at the top of the lineup did a really good job starting off the game. We had really competitive at-bats and were able to get on base and from top to bottom.”
“Even the people in the dugout were providing energy and getting behind us,” he added. “That makes a big difference in how the game feels.”
The offensive highlight of the day, though, came from Rosenbaum himself. He went five-for-five in the second game with two RBIs, leaving him at a perfect eight-for-eight on the day and a total of 10 RBIs. Of P-P’s 25 runs on the day, Rosenbaum contributed to 14.
Rosenbaum is returning from Tommy John surgery, a procedure that replaces an injured elbow ligament, last May. The surgery has taken him out of the pitching rotation this year, but he remains patient as he completes a regimented rehabilitation program.
“Rehab is long and monotonous, and you just kind of have to stay positive throughout the whole thing and know that what you’re doing is for the better,” Rosenbaum said.
He hopes to be back on the mound next season, but for now, he is content playing first base and using his bat to contribute to the lineup.
When describing his success at the plate on Sunday, Rosenbaum said that before Sunday’s game he had his “worst round of batting practice”—but that was when he knew he was going to have a good day.
“I didn’t realize how good of a day it was going to be, but that’s just kind of how it works sometimes,” he said. “There’s no real rhyme or reason to it; I feel like I was just seeing the ball well.”
“I got good pitches to hit, and you just have to be thankful for days like that to happen,” he added. “You have to respect the game and respect that it’s a hard sport.”
Despite their strong Sunday showing, the Sagehens could not maintain momentum to pull off a victory in Monday’s game. Redlands came out early and scored six runs in the second inning. By the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs were poised to end the game 14-2 on the mercy rule.
In a true show of grit, the Sagehens refused to give in to the 12-run deficit. They came back with a seven-run seventh inning, fueled by a mammoth home run by none other than Rosenbaum. The home run, which cleared the first row of trees at the 360-foot left-center fence, went an unprecedented distance.
“The home run [Rosenbaum] hit was the furthest ball I’ve seen hit to left field at this park,” Pericolosi said. “I’ve never seen a ball go over that tree completely before in left center. That’s an impressive shot.”
It was not enough to save the game for the Sagehens, though. Redlands came back in the ninth inning to score three more runs, eventually coming away with the 17-10 win.
The Sagehens have more than half of the season ahead of them, and are still hoping to win the SCIAC tournament.
“In the big picture, we’re happy to take two of three from Redlands—we’re happy to win any series in the SCIAC because everybody’s good,” Pericolosi said. “We would have obviously liked to get the last one, but when you sweep a team at their field, it’s tough to do. To win on the road is big, so hats off to our guys for getting it done on the road this weekend.”
“We just have to keep getting better,” he added.
The Sagehens face off against Whittier College March 7-8. They begin with a road game March 7 at 2:30 p.m., and finish with a doubleheader on March 8 at Alumni Field. First pitch on March 8 will be at 11 a.m.