Playoff Hopes Collapse, But Sagehens Rally for Senior Day

On Tuesday, April 29, the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team honored its
seniors’ final collegiate game with a pre-game ceremony before taking the field against the University of Redlands. In the wake of three round-robin losses that eliminated the their playoff hopes, the Sagehens determined to
finish on a strong note. Despite the losses, the seniors went out with pride, ending their careers with a 14-2 rout of
Redlands. 

After coming off of an exciting sweep of Occidental College, hopes were
high for the Sagehens as they fought for a place in postseason play last week. P-P opened its round-robin play with a home game against Whittier College. The
Sagehens hung with the Poets until the ninth inning, aided by Simon
Rosebaum PO ’16, who went two-for-two with a home run and two RBIs. The score
was tied heading into the ninth inning, but the Poets were able to scrape
together three runs and squeeze through with the win. The final score was 8-6, and Sagehen morale reached a season low. Although the team was still
mathematically alive, the loss reversed the team’s positive momentum.

“That was the lowest point that I saw,” head coach Frank
Pericolosi said. “Our guys have done a pretty good job of staying positive
throughout the year, but I think that was the moment where I felt like they
thought it was kind of over. The guys were a little bit down after that one
going into the weekend games.” 

The change in momentum made for a rough weekend of games. The
Sagehens dropped their Saturday game against the University of La Verne 6-3 and their Sunday
game against Chapman University 11-1.

However, P-P did not give up on its last
game. As a show of respect for their seniors, the team went out on a high note, defeating Redlands 14-2 by mercy rule. EJ Lopez PZ ’15 came away with the offensive
highlight of the game by going four-for-four with two home runs and five RBIs.
Jackson Badger PZ ’14 was also an offensive contributor, hitting a three-run
double to contribute to the team’s five-run sixth inning.

With the team ahead by 10 runs, a flood of seniors entered to
see action in the final inning of their collegiate baseball careers. Drew
Helgren PO ’14 came in to pinch run for Badger, and Robert Weller PO ’14, who
had spent most of the season injured, came up to the plate. He hit a single into
right field before coming out for a pinch runner. Coleman Lukkas PZ ’14 came
in to pitch the final inning and close out the game.

According to Pericolosi, the senior sendoff is never easy. 

“It’s
tough to have the seniors leave,” he said. “You get to know them so well and by the time they’re seniors that you definitely
have a good rapport with the guys. You’re able to joke around with the guys, and
all of them have a good sense of humor. You spend a lot of time together in
four years—you’re talking 20-30 hours a week all spring for four years. And
it’s like they’re part of your everyday.”

He added that for this group of seniors, the moment was certainly
bittersweet.

“It’s tough to see those guys go, but they’ve had a good run,” Pericolosi said.
“They’ve won a lot of games when they were here, and I’m definitely proud of what
they did in terms of the work they put in. They were good teammates here for
four years.” 

P-P finishes out its season 16-23 overall and 12-16 in the SCIAC.
Although the team has struggled throughout the season, Pericolosi said that
there are valuable lessons to draw from the difficulties.

“Hopefully this
season is motivating,” he said. “As a team we underachieved, and we need to be
better. It’s the lowest win total we’ve had since 2006, and hopefully it
motivates people. When you don’t have the success you want to have, you can
either point fingers and make excuses or you can really work hard over the
summer to get yourself better and do everything you can to make next season
different from this season.”

But Pericolosi emphasized that returning players won’t waste time focusing on the struggles of this season.

“Having a tough season like this gets under guys’ skin a little bit
competitively,” he said. “It makes the team want to work harder and be better
and make us better next year. You can’t dwell on it; it’s a season, and it’s in
the books. It shouldn’t have any effect on next year.”

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