After a “chilly” week and a second wave of midterms washing over the Claremont Colleges, the weather warmed up as the Pomona-Pitzer men’s baseball team (12-14, 5-10 SCIAC) took on the SCIAC No.1-ranked Occidental College Tigers (20-5, 15-3 SCIAC) on Friday and Saturday, Apr. 1 and 2.
The Sagehens came in to the three-game series in hopes of upping their chances for a run in the SCIAC post season. Unfortunately, they did not manage to pick up wins against the Tigers. Even though P-P scored crucial runs and pulled within striking distance of their opponents in both games, Oxy played scrappy, unrelenting defense that has helped them dominate the SCIAC division all season long. The Sagehens came up short in the series, losing to Oxy 7-6, 19-5, and 6-3.
But what is even more important is the future of Sagehen baseball as the team continues to strive for playoff contention. Currently, the Sagehens are sitting in sixth place behind the University of Redlands (17-11, 10-8 SCIAC) and the University of La Verne 16-10, 9-6 SCIAC). To qualify for playoffs, SCIAC teams (in all sports) only need to finish the regular season in fourth to continue onto the postseason, and the Sagehens are optimistic they can get there by the season’s end.
According to Bryan Lynch PZ ’18, “It’s going to be tough making the playoffs, definitely, especially since our recent skid has left us at 5-10 in conference play. But I know that the guys are excited for the challenge ahead and ready to turn this thing around.”
Lynch also went on to note the turbulent lineup the Sagehens have in store for the remainder of their season.
“We know that the remainder of our schedule is going to be tough since we’re playing both second-place [California Lutheran University] (18-8, 12-3 SCIAC) and third-place Chapman [University] (17-10, 11-4 SCIAC), both well-respected programs that produce a lot of wins, but in SCIAC baseball, anyone can beat anyone on any given day. As I said before: We are ready for the challenge and to take home 2/3 wins in both those series.”
Indeed, Lynch is correct: Taking down Chapman and Cal Lutheran is no easy task. Neither team has lost more than four games this season and are on seven-game win streaks. But he is also correct in his assumption that the Sagehens are up to the task and won’t go down without a fight. Although the team has faced some challenging opponents recently, they are poised to break the slump by readjusting their playbook and putting a larger emphasis on bunting and fielding, both of which will be their key to winning and continued success for the remainder of the season. However, La Verne and Redlands are also on four and five-game losing streaks, respectively. P-P is on the tail of these teams, and if they can hurdle over La Verne and Redlands, they can secure a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament starting Friday, May 6.
Finishing out games strong is another goal for the Sagehens. Although they’ve started games strong, the losses suffered this past weekend resulted directly from late-inning mishaps. Lynch, a pitcher on the team, has re-committed himself to improving his pitching in order for the Sagehens to find the zone and elongate games to more innings, giving his team more opportunities to score. If the Sagehens can manage to secure at least 2 out of 3 victories in each series versus these two upper table teams, then they should have no problem finishing off California Institute of Technology (2-19, 0-15 SCIAC) in their regular season finale Friday and Saturday, Apr. 22 and 23. So, hopefully, the Sagehens can find their stride against Cal Lutheran this Friday and Saturday, Apr. 8 and 9, and Chapman the following week.