Stags Held in Check by Chapman Pitching, Lose Two of Three

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s baseball team (5-13, 3-9 SCIAC) squared off against
conference opponent Chapman University (10-7, 8-4 SCIAC) in a weekend series March 7-8. The Stags saw a Friday night loss at Chapman and a home-field
split during the Saturday doubleheader. Clayton Brock CM ’16 pitched a gem to seal
the bounce-back win early Saturday, but the late game featured a Chapman rally
that ended the game by mercy rule.

Friday game was a close affair, much closer than the 5-1 final score suggests.
The Panthers scored first with two runs in the bottom of the second, but CMS quickly answered with one run in the top of the third. Chapman
tacked on one more in the third to make the score 3-1, where it would
remain until the eighth inning.

The difference in the game seemed to be disciplined pitching
from Chapman that constantly kept the Stags’ batters behind in the count.

“They did a nice job
striking out—I think—nine in the game, and I think those nine were fairly
timely,” coach
Randy Town said. “We would have runners on or in scoring position and the K would follow, so that would shut down our momentum.”

The Stags were not without opportunities, leaving 12 players
stranded on base. Shortstop Scott Witte CM ’14 thinks missed opportunities have hurt the Stags all year. 

“We’ve left
a lot of runners on base this season, which obviously hasn’t been helpful in
the win column,” Witte said.

Chad Hadzinsky CM ’14 started the game on the mound, giving up only two earned runs in
seven innings pitched, but those two runs were all Chapman would need. For insurance, the Panthers tacked on two more in the bottom of the eighth to seal the win.

featured a doubleheader on the CMS home field. The early game was the Stags’ most complete performance of the series. They put together a solid hitting day,
great pitching, and an iron curtain of defense that included an error-free game
and four double plays.

first inning ended with a two-run Chapman lead, but the Stags did not let
another run score. Brock delivered a masterful performance on the
mound, remaining calm and in control of his pitches, but he was quick to credit
the defense behind him for making great plays.

“Honestly, I had a
lot of great defense behind me,” Brock said.
“[The team] kind of got me back to the dugout … short pitch counts, kind of keeping
me going.”

With the pitching and defense in synch, the batters were able to
relax and capitalize on opportunities. Witte pointed out the effect that
Brocke’s performance had on the batters.

“When you get a guy throwing strikes, its easy to
rally up behind them,” Witte said. “We scored a few and were able to hold on. It’s much easier to
hold onto a lead than to claw back. So [good pitching] kind of does take a
little bit of the pressure off the offense.”

A three-run third inning gave the Stags a lead, and that 3-2 score would be the
final of the game. Brock’s 105 pitches marked his season high, and he showed some
signs of fatigue in the ninth inning, so the Stags brought in closer Andor
Kesselman CM ’14. Kesselman was able to make quick work of the Chapman hitters and seal the
victory with a shutout ninth inning.

wanted to carry the momentum from game two into game three, but could not keep up with
the bats of Chapman. Alhough the score was two runs apiece after three innings,
Chapman tacked on three more in the fourth. Town trotted out a total of eight different
pitchers over the course of the game.

“We decided it was time to go after a strategy we had
implemented during the week,” Town said. “We wanted our guys to come into the game with a
focus on getting a particular hitter. If they were unsuccessful, then we were
going to roll out somebody else.”

But the strategy did not work, and the Stags let in two more runs in the fifth inning. One more run by CMS cut the deficit to four heading into the eighth inning, but Chapman bats heated up, scoring eight runs in the top of the eighth to push their lead to 11. When the Stags could not secure any more runs in the bottom of the inning, the game was
ended by the mercy rule.

When asked if inconsistencies and an inability to capitalize on
opportunities could be attributed to the youth of the team, both Town and Witte were quick to say the blame could not fall on any one group of

“At this point the players who are
playing, the underclassmen playing, are pretty comfortable,” Witte said.

Town instead pointed to
inconsistent pitching as a reason for the Stags’ lack of composure.

“You know when
the pitching isn’t consistent, it doesn’t matter what class they’re in,” Town said. “It
really is the difference-maker in this game.” 

Stags’ inconsistency continued with a 6-2 loss to non-conference opponent Ithaca College on
Tuesday, March 11, but the team is not too concerned.

“We’ve had streaks before
where we get hot, and we’ve had streaks where we get cold, but we’ll see going
forward,” Witte said. “Just try to win every game.”

CMS resumes conference play against University of La Verne today at 2:30 p.m. at home. 

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