Witte, Kesselman Lift Stags Over Caltech

As Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” This statement rang true this past weekend, at least for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team (13-23, 9-16 SCIAC), which played California Institute of Technology (1-29, 0-23 SCIAC) and earned its first series sweep of the year. The Stags enjoyed their most successful weekend this season as they outscored the Beavers 32-6 over the three games. 

“Every conference win still makes a big difference,” catcher Yoni Hendel CM ’14 said. “Coming off a series sweep is always good for momentum going forward.”

In the first game on Friday, April 18, CMS came out swinging and never looked back. Shortstop Scott Witte CM ’14 and center fielder Michael Gose CM ’15 walked to start the first inning, then designated hitter Jack Witte CM ’16 hit a double to drive them both home and capture the early lead.

CMS kept up the intensity in the second, compiling five more runs by taking advantage of Caltech miscues in the field and consistent hitting from the offense, including a two-RBI single from first baseman Mackenzie Menthen CM ’16.

“It was the first pitch of the at-bat, and it was a curveball,” he explained. “There were men on base, so I figured the pitcher would come right after me. I was actually out in front of the pitch but was fortunate enough to find a hole through the infield.”

After that, Jack Witte drove in his brother Scott Witte with a single in the third.  The Stag offense went dormant until the ninth inning, when they manufactured three more runs on various hits, including a key single by second baseman Austin Schoff CM ’17. 

Pitcher Chad Hadzinsky CM ’14 took advantage of his run support and looked extremely comfortable on the mound, tossing six shutout innings to help CMS capture the 12-3 victory.

“We just played fundamental baseball,” Hendel said. “What we did is what we had to do; we executed and played to our fullest potential.”

The Stags showed no signs of slowing during either of their two games on Saturday, April 19. In the first game, backed by strong pitching performances by Clayton Brock CM ’16 and Sam Woodman HM ’16, the offense looked very comfortable, putting runs on the board in various innings throughout the game to defeat the Tigers 7-3.

CMS’ first run came in the first when Menthen roped a double into the outfield to score Scott Witte. Scott Witte then collected an RBI of his own in the third inning when he sent a shot over the outfield fence for his third home run of the year.  

CMS’ biggest inning, though, came in the seventh, when Jack Witte once again launched an RBI double into the outfield and second baseman Michael Erb CM ’14 followed that up with a single to bring him home.

Menthen had offensive success all weekend long, going three-for-nine overall, scoring three runs, and notching five RBIs.

“Usually, my approach is to stay back and drive the ball,” he said. “Pitch selection is very important; I look to swing at pitches I can handle when I’m up in the count.” 

In the final game on Saturday, CMS had its most impressive victory yet, dominating Caltech en route to a 13-0 victory. The player of the game for the Stags was pitcher Andor Kesselman CM ’14, who almost threw a perfect game, only allowing two hits and no runs in his seven innings of work. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Stags enjoyed a monster first inning, blitzing Caltech with a multitude of hits including a two-RBI single by third baseman Ray Hurwitz HM ’14. In the fourth inning, CMS did even more damage with their bats, totaling six runs in the inning. Jack Witte got the scoring started with a two-RBI single, and then right fielder John Rizzo CM ’15 and Erb followed that up with a single and a double, respectively, to keep the party going. Then, to cap it off, Hendel hit a double to bring Erb around to score, just for good measure.

“I try to see the ball, hit the ball, and not think too much,” Hendel said. “The pitcher didn’t have an absurdly high velocity, so I just saw the ball, waited back on it, threw my bat through the zone, barreled it up, and hit it right in the right field gap.”

Once the dust had settled, the Stags had emerged victorious 13-0. While that was the final regular season series of the year for CMS, the team is still participating in the SCIAC Round Robin Tournament. In the first game of round robin play on Wednesday, April 23, the Stags fell to California Lutheran University (28-8, 19-6 SCIAC) 15-3. The team will look to rebound against the University of Redlands (13-21, 12-12 SCIAC) today, April 25 at 3 p.m.

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