Stags Step Up to the Plate

The energy and cheers radiated from the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3-5, 2-1 SCIAC) dugout into the stands and across the field as Trey Smith CM ’18 stepped up to the plate on Saturday afternoon. After having already smashed a grand slam in the first game earlier that day, Smith approached the plate with his calm, cool, and collected demeanor, ready to put the ball into play for the Stags.

In this second game of the day on Feb. 20, third game of the series against SCIAC rivals Pomona-Pitzer (5-2, 1-2 SCIAC), the situation was identical to the first inning of the previous game: the bases were loaded with one out. CMS fans held their breath to see if Smith could make ‘lightning strike twice’ and hit it out of the park as Smith settled into his batting stance to face P-P pitcher Nicholas Radich PZ ’18.

And indeed he could, and did. Smith swung his bat and crushed the ball out of the park to put the Stags ahead 4-0 for his second grand slam in two games.

Afterwards, Smith said, grinning, “I just wanted to put the ball in play … and the second I hit it I couldn’t believe what [another grand slam] had just happened! It was unbelievable.” Due to Smith’s strong offensive presence, captain Jack Witte’s (CM ’16) skillful moves at shortstop and pitcher Sam Baughman’s (CM ’17) impressive performance from the mound, the Stags won their final game 11-7, sweeping the Sagehens on Saturday to win the series.

However, the series didn’t begin the way it ended. It was a close game all the way into the eighth inning of Friday’s conference opener, but CMS ultimately lost 12-3 to PP after the Hens had a seven-run rally late in the game. “After Friday, our mindset going into Saturday was to focus on the grind—take it one inning at a time, one pitch at a time, get a hit, start a rally, bring a lot of energy … I was going into Saturday cautiously optimistic,” pitcher Sam Baughman CM ’17 said.

Baughman’s mindset worked for the Stags, as they came out victorious in both games against Pomona-Pitzer, 21-13 in the first game and 11-7 in the second, sweeping their rivals for the first time since 2011. In the second game of the day, Baughman pitched four straight shutout innings of his seven on the mound while CMS worked offensively to rack up 11 runs; Trey Smith, Jack Witte, and Alex Clemens CM ’18 had a combined total of 9 RBIs.

“After our team scores in consecutive innings, it’s really important for me to go out there and put up a zero to keep the momentum on our side,” Baughman said. Witte and Clemens also played huge games defensively for the Stags in the middle infield.

Both Baughman and Smith emphasized the momentous impact and importance of energy in this victory over P-P and for continued success this season. 

“It’s a constant energy battle,” Smith said. “If you win the energy battle, the majority of the time, you’ll win the game.” He said he also felt that the dugout and the energy and fire his teammates provided was a huge reason they were able to be victorious as a team.

Baughman agreed and said the freshmen on the team have been powerful energy contributors as well this season. “We’ve had a really strong freshmen class … they’ve brought a really genuine energy and fresh mindset to the game,” he said.

“It’s also good for our younger players to build confidence, and wins like these at the beginning of the season bring us together as a team… Our wins this weekend showed what we’re capable of,” infielder Nick Lillie CM ’17 added. 

CMS has a new, inspired coaching staff, awesome talent, palpable energy, unyielding drive, and serious momentum: it’s all coming together for the Stags at the perfect moment heading into the season.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident this season, and I think our team as a whole is beyond confident. The amount of energy and momentum we have going into this [Univeristy of] La Verne series is insane … I think this is going to be a huge season for us,” said Smith.

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