The Pomona-Pitzer baseball team used their bye weekend from SCIAC play to square off against defending College World Series Champion and No. 1 Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13. The two teams met last year in the NCAA West Regionals, when Linfield defeated the Sagehens on their way to the national title. The Wildcats got the best of the Sagehens again, sweeping the three-game series.
Despite the three losses, the Hens still came out of the weekend optimistic. According to Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16, the team went into the weekend excited to learn from Linfield’s program.
“They’ve been successful in the past, and they’re successful now,” he said. “We went up there with the idea that we were going to try to learn from them and see how they went about their business and see if there was anything we could pick up. It’s always fun to measure yourself against guys who are really good, guys who are the best, so I know I was fired up.”
The first game proved an excellent opportunity to learn, as Linfield started their No. 1 pitcher, Chris Haddeland. According to P-P head coach Frank Pericolosi, facing Haddeland was an eye-opening experience for the Sagehens.
“We faced the best pitcher in the country, and he was impressive,” Pericolosi said. “He was able to throw pitches that moved in on a right-hander, away from a right-hander very well. And even in hitter’s counts, there was never a ball right down the middle that a hitter could hit. He really moves the ball well, and he was dominant.”
Haddeland kept the Sagehens scoreless for six innings and allowed only one hit during his time on the mound. After Linfield made their way to a 16-0 lead, Haddeland left the game to make way for the bullpen. In the eighth inning, P-P was able to capitalize off of a three-bases-loaded walk to push the score to 16-4, but could not pull off the win. Linfield collected the 16-4 victory and pushed their record to 25-3 on the year, while Pomona-Pitzer fell to 12-18.
In the Saturday nightcap, Rosenbaum hit a two-run double in the third inning to give P-P an early 2-0 lead. During the sixth inning, Travis Bowers PO ’14 hit an RBI single and put the Sagehens up 3-2. The lead could not be sustained, though, as Linfield answered Bowers’ RBI with five runs in the bottom of the inning. Linfield increased their lead by adding another five runs in the seventh inning. The combined 10 runs in two innings was too big for the Sagehens to overcome and, again, Linfield walked away with the win, 13-3.
P-P came back on Sunday to finish out the series, prepared to put up a good fight. The final game turned out to be the most promising chance for a Sagehen victory. P-P scored in the first inning off of a sacrifice fly from EJ Lopez PZ ’15 to give the Sagehens a one-run lead. Although Linfield came back in the bottom of the first with five runs, David Gerics PO ’17 came in with strong relief. Gerics struck out two and allowed just four hits in the course of six innings, setting the stage for a potential P-P comeback.
The team came out in the eighth inning ready to rally. After a leadoff single by Sam Fox PZ ’15, a walk by Rosenbaum, and singles by Lopez and Jake Bruml PO ’14, the team improved the score to 6-2 and had the tying run at the plate. A walk from Timmy Novom PO ’15 moved the score to 6-3, and a single by Bowers pushed the score to 6-4. However, Linfield closer Cody Walker came in to shut down the Sagehen momentum. Linfield was able to score another two runs in the bottom of the eighth and eventually walked away with the 8-4 win, dropping the Sagehens to 12-20 on the year.
The season is not over yet, though, and hope for a Sagehen appearance in the postseason is still possible. Should the Saghens sweep their series against Occidental College this weekend and win out their four-game round robin play, they would be able to finish in the top four of the SCIAC and make it to the SCIAC playoffs.
According to Rosenbaum, the team is taking the postseason challenge step by step.
“There are seven games left in SCIAC, and every one of those games is going to count,” Rosenbaum said. “We are going to have to win out, so we’re going to try and take it one game at a time and hopefully give ourselves a chance in the end to be in the mix and go from there. We need to control what we can control.”
The Sagehens begin their series against Occidental today, April 18 with an away game at 3 p.m. The series concludes with a doubleheader at home on Saturday, April 19 with games at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.