Stags Go Out Swining, Win Last Two

Over the past week, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team (15-24, 11-17 SCIAC) participated in the SCIAC Round Robin Tournament, and things kept getting better as the week progressed. CMS dropped the first two games to California Lutheran University (31-8, 22-6 SCIAC) and the University of Redlands (15-23, 14-14 SCIAC), but then defeated Whittier College (21-18, 17-11 SCIAC) and Occidental College (18-21, 14-14 SCIAC) in the final two. In addition, with the victory over Whittier, CMS accomplished an impressive feat: The team has now defeated every team in SCIAC at least once this year. 

The win probably felt even better for the Stags since it came after two especially painful losses. In the first game on Wednesday, April 23, Cal Lutheran slapped the Stags around en route to a dominant 15-3 victory. CMS did make some noise in the last inning, though: Right fielder Cameron Ridley CM ’15 roped a single down the left field line, and then second baseman Alan Toscano CM ’16 provided some fireworks by launching the ball out to right center and racing around the bases for a triple to bring Ridley home. Toscano crossed the plate himself one batter later on a wild pitch.

“One of the beautiful things about baseball is that you never really know what it is going to be like in every game,” outfielder and pitcher Sam Woodman HM ’16 said. “They were hitting the ball well and we didn’t get those big outs, so they were able to tack on those runs and we couldn’t get that big hit ourselves to keep up.”

The offense built on that late-game momentum throughout its next game against Redlands on Friday, April 25. CMS scored runs in each of the first four innings, but the Bulldogs exploded for 20 hits against the Stags and prevailed 18-7. The most exciting inning for CMS, though, was the second. Third baseman Ray Hurwitz HM ’14 walked with two outs, and Woodman reached on a bunt. Then, shortstop Scott Witte CM ’14 stepped to the plate and provided the highlight of the game by launching a three-run home run to left field.

On Sunday, however, the entire game was a highlight, as the Stags topped the Poets 7-4 in the third game of the series. 

The game was tied 1-1 heading into the fourth inning, but then Woodman knocked an RBI single and Hurwitz hit a sacrifice fly to give the Stags a two-run advantage.  

“I was looking for a pitch that I could hit up the middle or into the outfield and score the run any way I could,” Woodman said. “It got to two strikes and at that point I was trying to put the ball in play, and I just hit a soft roller up the middle and I was able to beat it out.”

After Whittier tied it up in the bottom of the fourth, CMS went back to work in the fifth. First baseman Mackenzie Menthen CM ’16 knocked Scott Witte in with an RBI single, then scored himself on a Whittier error, and Woodman once again proved to be a key hitter by hitting another RBI single.

“I got down to two strikes, so I hit another grounder that got through the infielders into the outfield,” he said. “I was just trying to stick with the same approach and keep things consistent.”

Scott Witte added one more run with a solo home run in the sixth and that was enough for the Stags, who were backed up on the mound with a strong pitching performance from Andor Kesselman CM ’14, who pitched his second complete game in two outings and only gave up four runs on six hits.

“We definitely wanted to turn it around,” Woodman said. “Andor [Kesselman] threw great and kept us in the game, and we were able to get some hits.”

The Stags were able to keep up their momentum in the fourth game, against Occidental, on Tuesday, April 28, and ended the season on a high note by defeating them 3-1. Woodman provided a dominant performance on the mound by tossing six shutout innings after allowing just one run in the first. Backed by Woodman’s strong effort, the Stag offense did just enough to win, scoring all three of their runs in the third inning.

Hurwitz got the rally started by sending a single to left field, and Scott Witte got himself on base by getting plunked by a pitch. Then, CMS fed off the momentum they established and poured on the hits. First, center fielder Michael Gose CM ’15 doubled down the left field line, then Menthen added a single to score Scott Witte, and second baseman Michael Erb CM ’14 ripped a double of his own to bring Gose home. 

Although CMS was not able to compete for a postseason bid this year, the season ended on a positive note as seniors Scott Witte and Hurwitz were able to savor the last at-bats of their career in the ninth inning and Chad Hadzinsky ’14 secured a save in the final game of his career.

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