Although the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team went into their Cesar Chavez weekend showdown against the University of La Verne (13-12, 9-5 SCIAC) with a positive and confident attitude, the team came up short in all three games. Despite some strong individual performances, the three losses brought the Sagehens’ record down to 5-13 in the SCIAC and 9-17 overall.
The first game, on Friday, March 28, began on an exciting note as Tanner Nishioka PO ’17 led off with a first-pitch home run. However, the offensive momentum proved fleeting. The Sagehens could not score again during the game, and La Verne came away with the 6-1 win.
Saturday afternoon, led by disciplined throws from first-year pitcher Lane Miles PO ’17, the Sagehens came back refreshed and ready for a good showing, playing eight innings of crisp baseball to take a 3-1 lead going into the final frame.
When asked about the pitching strategy that led to his success on Saturday, Miles said that he drew on observations of the Leopards’ strategy from Friday’s game.
“Going into the game, my thought was that this season, I had been successful to some degree by working with sliders and change-ups—working off speed and working away from hitters,” Miles said. “And we knew that, while I could stick with that for some amount of time, I had to also work with fastballs inside so they couldn’t just sit away and try to hit the ball to right field, which they did in the game on Friday.”
The strategy proved successful for Miles, as he held La Verne to a solitary run and left the Sagehens in a strong position going into the ninth inning.
“Lane is very effective because he changes speeds well and he keeps the ball down,” head coach Frank Pericolosi said. “He’s kept the ball down more than any pitcher on our staff this year, and he’s been successful because of it. He’s tough. He’s competitive. He really knows how to pitch—he’s a polished pitcher for a freshman here. And he’s been very effective.”
Pericolosi said that Miles has more input in calling his pitches than pitchers normally do; in baseball, the catcher or coach typically decides what pitches to throw and how to vary speeds and location.
“He calls his own game on the mound,” Pericolosi said. “I’ve never had anybody do it here before.”
It takes a substantial amount of trust to let a pitcher decide what pitches to throw, but Pericolosi said that Miles is fit for the challenge.
“He has a very good idea of what he’s doing out there, so I trust him,” he said. “Even as a freshman, I trust him. He knows what he’s doing. It’s a good feeling that he has enough confidence in himself and how he pitches that we can just let him do that.”
Pericolosi’s trust in Miles appears to have paid off.
“Lane Miles has been great for us,” Pericolosi said. “He’s probably been our best pitcher this year.”
Nevertheless, Miles’ strong eight innings of pitching were not enough to secure a Sagehen victory.
After a series of errors and walks, P-P blew their two-run lead, but then managed to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a clutch two-out, two-RBI single to force extra innings. In the 10th inning, however, the Leopards put up four runs and the Sagehens were unable to respond, falling 9-5.
During the night cap, the most notable Sagehen performance came from Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16, who spent the weekend dominating the La Verne pitching staff. Rosenbaum went four-for-five with seven RBIs, making him responsible for seven of the nine Sagehen runs scored. But again, P-P couldn’t quite pull it out, and La Verne won the third game 14-9.
For now, P-P is focusing on consistent performance in all aspects of the game.
“There are three phases to the game: You have to pitch, you have to play defense, and you have to hit,” Miles said. “And I think we have very good hitters, our pitching staff can be very good, and our defense can be very good.”
The question, Miles said, is whether P-P can have a strong showing in all three areas in the same game.
“This weekend, that didn’t happen,” he said. “In none of the games did we hit well, pitch well, and play defense well, which is what you have to do to win. The question is, on game day, is it going to come together, and will we do all three well?”
Although the P-P baseball team has not seen as much success this season as they would have liked, the team still maintains a positive mentality and a strong team camaraderie.
“One thing you can’t tell from the outside is how close of a team we are, both on and off the field, and how impressed I’ve been and and I know how impressed the other freshmen have been with the ability of the upperclassmen and the captains to keep the team together, even when things weren’t going our way and we weren’t playing as well as we wanted to,” Miles said.
“I’ve just been really impressed by everyone’s ability to stay cohesive, stay together, and be positive,” he added.
P-P faces off next against the California Institute of Technology at home today, April 4 at 3 p.m. The team then travels to Pasadena for a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.