Hens Sweep Ithaca, Take Second in SCIAC

The
Pomona-Pitzer baseball team enjoyed another strong week,
sweeping Ithaca College in a two-game series March 8 and 9 to extend the team’s
winning streak to seven games. P-P (13-3, 8-1 SCIAC) moved up to second place in
the conference after last weekend’s triumph over Whittier College, and has launched itself into a good early season position ahead of three encounters next
weekend against fellow strong-starter, the University of La Verne. 

The Sagehens entered Sunday’s game against the Bombers on a high with a five-game win streak. Over the past five games, the Hens were rolling on all cylinders.

“We’ve been
playing good, clean, team baseball,” first baseman Simon Rosenbaum PO ’16 said. “We’ve been able to get clutch two-out hits
from a lot of different guys. We’ve been making good pitches in
clutch situations. We’ve made solid defensive plays when we’ve needed
to. We haven’t made a lot of mistakes and been able to capitalize on our
opponents’.”

Having found offensive
production easy to come by so far this season, P-P made a strong start in the
opening game. In the bottom of the second, third baseman E.J. Lopez PZ ’15 started the Sagehen offense off with a bang as he blasted a two-run shot over the left field fence with right fielder Mark Okuma PZ ’15 on first base. Center fielder Tanner Nishioka PO ’17 kept the rally going with a sacrifice fly, followed by catcher Kevin Jordan PZ ’17 scoring on a wild pitch to put the Hens up 4-0. After scoring another run in the third, P-P never looked back and took the game by a final of 5-2.

The Sagehen pitching also played a major role in the victory. Pitcher Lane Miles PO ’17 was able to shut down the Ithaca offense, giving up only two runs with one earned, striking out five, and allowing only four hits. Miles improves to 3-1 on the season, while pitcher David Gerics PO ’17 picked up his fourth save of the season.

The first win against Ithaca was a boost to the Sagehens’ confidence, and even led to friendly banter with P-P assistant coach Matt Colbert (Ithaca College ’14).

“It always feels good to beat Ithaca because we have a lot of respect for their program,” Rosenbaum said. “They do
things the right way and are going to win a lot of games this year, so beating
them is a good resume builder, so to speak. This year it was more special
because we proved to Coach Colbert that he made a good decision
coming to our side.”

The following day, the Hens picked up right where they left off, with even better offense and pitching. After a quick first two innings, the Sagehens blew the game open. With a mix of small ball and Ithaca errors, P-P was able to put a five spot on the Bombers in the third inning. Jordan led off the scoring with an RBI single, followed by a bunt single by shortstop Sam Fox PZ ’15 that brought home another run on a throwing error. Nishioka added an RBI double and Lopez added an RBI single to cap off the big inning for the Sagehens.

After the high-scoring third inning, the Hens went on cruise control as pitcher Jake Bruml PO ’15 was in dominant form. Bruml went seven strong innings, shutting out the Bombers and giving up only six hits. Pitcher Cameron Yen PZ ’16 came into the game in relief, keeping Ithaca off the board as the Sagehens earned a shutout. Even though the games were non-SCIAC games, the Hens knew that they can be important down the road.

“We know that
Ithaca is a nationally acclaimed team every year, so we take those games very
seriously, even though they are non-conference,” second baseman Kenny Rabin PO ’15 said. “They are a big help in terms of
strength of schedule and we know when it comes down to decide who makes the
tournament, those games can matter. They were a good squad, and we are
always happy to get wins.”

The two-game sweep puts the
Sagehens in an excellent position to cement their status as one of most dangerous teams in the SCIAC. With the upcoming series against the University of La
Verne, the Hens have an excellent chance to show the SCIAC league that they mean business.

“We’re confident,
but we have a lot of respect for La Verne,” Rosenbaum said. “They’re always very scrappy and play
us tough every year. They swept us last year so we’re going to come in with a
chip on our shoulder. We’ve been playing well so we’re excited to have another
chance to play and to prove ourselves to the conference and even the
national polls.”

With a few days of rest over spring break, the Sagehens know they must stay focused on the games ahead.

“We just
need to stay focused through the off-time,” Rabin said. “We get a couple days off to recover
our bodies and to get ready for the second half of the season. We know that
just because we’ve done well so far doesn’t mean we can just start
coasting. We have to prepare for every game just as hard as the last.”

Nachi Baru contributed reporting. 

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