Clutch Hitting Lifts P-P Baseball Over CMS, Playoff Hopes Preserved

The Pomona-Pitzer baseball team kept its playoff hopes alive by coming back from a late 5-2 deficit to beat archrival CMS last Saturday.

On Friday the Sagehens suffered a disappointing 5-1 loss to second-place La Verne. The lone run came thanks to a James Campbell PO ’12 home run to left in the second. The loss dropped the Sagehens to 13-9 in SCIAC, fourth in the division. To make matters worse, Redlands (ranked #19 in D-III) won all three of its games over the weekend to increase its SCIAC-leading record to 19-5.

Going into the weekend, the Sagehens knew Saturday’s game against the CMS Stags was a do-or-die showdown. By evening their season record against the Stags at 2-2, P-P could greatly increase their chances of receiving one of the at-large bids to the NCAA Division-III baseball playoffs.

It seemed like the P-P fans knew the importance of the game, too, and showed up in large numbers for what appeared to be the Hens' biggest crowd of the season. Even President Oxtoby made an appearance at the game and seemed overjoyed when the Hens pulled out the W. The fans brought their A-game when it came to heckling the rival Stags and pumping up the home team, an aspect of the game of baseball that is usually lacking at Pomona-Pitzer games. My personal favorite line of the day came when a enthusiastic fan shouted just as the Hen rally got into full-swing, “One does not simply walk into Mordor!” (The line was presumably intended to be a more sophisticated and Pomona-appropriate version of “Not in our house!”)

Although the Sagehens started rather slowly, in the end they did not disappoint the home crowd. The Stags drew first blood by scoring one in the top of the fourth, but the Sagehen offense responded quickly and put up two runs in the bottom half of the inning. The lead didn’t last long for the Hens as the Stags unloaded for four runs in the fifth, opening up a 5-2 lead.

The Hens started chipping away at the Stags’ lead in the seventh with some solid hitting. Timmy Novom PO ’14 started off the inning with a single to right, and the next batter, Erik Munzer PZ ’13, brought him in with a long double to left that sailed over the left-fielder’s head. Nick Frederick PO ’11 scored Munzer from second with a single through the left side.

After some great defense in the top of the eighth from Frederick and Nick Gentili PO ’13, the Sagehen batters got back to work in their half of the inning. After Teddy Bingham PO ’11 reached first on a costly error by the CMS first baseman and advanced to second on a passed ball, Garrett Lenhardt PZ ’13 brought in pinch runner Michael Nino PO ’11 with a single up the middle for the tying run. A few batters later, Munzer came come through in the clutch again, hitting a sacrifice fly to center to score what would prove to be the winning run.

In the top of the ninth, righty Collin Majev PO ’13 came in to close the game, getting the final batter to line out to left field and sealing a huge W for the Sagehens.

On Sunday, the Sagehen bats came alive, and the team squeaked out another win in a 14-12 slugfest with another SCIAC foe, Whittier College. While good pitching seemed to be lacking, P-P hitters showed they could match up with anyone offensively, collecting eighteen hits from ten different Sagehens. Seven different batters recorded RBIs, but Ben Cohen PZ ’12 and Jackson Badger PZ ’14 led the team with three apiece.

The Sagehens will face off against winless Cal Tech on Saturday and then face Redlands on Sunday at home. Sunday's matchup is a must-win game for the Hens to keep their playoff hopes alive. Another victory over a ranked opponent would greatly help the Sagehens’ resume as they petition for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The game starts at 1:00 p.m.

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