Stags baseball sweep Sagehens in historic Sixth Street series


Paul Roche CM ’23, who had two home runs in the Sixth Street series finale, gears up to turn on a pitch in the Stags 16-4 victory over the Sagehens. Courtesy: CMS Athletics

With a Stags stampede leaving Sixth Street covered in Sagehen feathers, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) baseball grabbed a broom from the very back of their equipment closet and swept away Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) last Saturday.

CMS baseball capped off their three-game Sixth Street series sweep of P-P with a 16-4 victory on March 4 at Alumni Field. The Stags’ season sweep of the Sagehens is their first on record, dating back to 2007 at the start of the SCIAC archives.

In contrast to the snow capping the mountains behind Claremont, the Stags came into the series blazing hot, taking the March 3 opener 11-6 at Biola University thanks to two home runs from SCIAC slugging (SLG) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) leader, Julian Sanders CM ’24.

CMS followed up this performance the next day against P-P, coming from behind and scoring two runs in the ninth inning to take the narrow 6-5 victory, pushing all of the momentum to their side of Sixth Street heading into the final game of the set.

The Stags flew out of the gate in the series finale. After Jack Potter CM ’25 was hit on the hands, Sanders took advantage with a RBI double. This was just a taste of CMS’s conference-leading slugging as immediately after, Paul Roche CM ’23 crushed a bomb to dead center, putting the Stags up 3-0.

After scoring once in the second, CMS put up another slugfest in the third. With a runner on first, Sanders took a pitch from Sagehens starter, Eddie Rosemont PZ ’24, deep for his SCAIC-topping ninth long-ball of the season.

“[I was] really just looking for offspeed,” Sanders said. “I knew that yesterday I hit it pretty well and I [thought] they were going to switch up their approach, so I was waiting for it. Saw the ball well and just cleared my mind.”

The Stags were not satisfied with their six run lead, however. Roche refused to be outdone, sending a back-to-back solo jack into the street for his second dinger of the game. 

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard, trying to stay relaxed up there and put a good swing on it,” Roche said.

Adding another two runs on a double by Roche in the fourth, the Sagehens offense looked all but toe-tagged. Nevertheless, P-P awakened in the bottom of the fourth with two men on and David Bedrosian PZ ’23 stepping to the plate. 

The SCIAC’s OPS leader in 2022, Bedrosian’s declining slugging in 2023 has been symbolic of P-P’s offensive troubles thus far into the season. However, things appeared to be on the upswing as Bedrosian pulled a ball high over the right field fence to put the Sagehens on the board.

Cutting the lead to six, P-P followed up with two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Nevertheless, Stags starter, Henry Connell HM ’25, recomposed himself, managing to squash the Sagehens’ golden opportunity by forcing P-P slugger Isaac Kim PO ’24 to settle for a sacrifice fly and keeping CMS on top 9-4.

This burst of offense proved to be all the Sagehens could muster as the Stags proceeded to dominate for the remainder of the afternoon. Although CMS didn’t score in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, it was the lights-out performance of reliever Dominic Rolla CM ’26, who held the Hens to just a single hit in four innings, that packed up the game for the Stags.

The quality of play on the mound paved the way for a final offensive onslaught from CMS. Including an RBI single by Sanders and a double for Roche, his fourth extra base hit of the game, the Stags dropped seven runs in the eighth inning, putting them ahead insurmountably at 16-4.

Head Coach Bill Walkenbach explained how his team responded so strongly to the Sagehens’ attempted comeback.

“We always know that when we play a team like [P-P] that’s usually one of the top offensive clubs in the country, they’re gonna punch back,” Walkenback said. “But we have a lot of confidence in our offense. That we can punch back, as well, and answer a big inning from [them].”

After another shutdown inning in the bottom of the eighth by Rolla, the game was called and the Stags had claimed the sweep in exuberant fashion.

Having been swept six times by P-P since 2009, this series was no doubt cathartic for a CMS team attempting to break through as the conference’s best. Walkenbach saw the sweep as incredibly important.

“It means a lot to this team,” Walkenbach said. “[P-P is] an extremely solid ball club and we know they’re always gonna put up a good fight … we are just trying to establish ourselves as a team in this league that has a chance to win, and this was another step towards that.”

The establishment Walkenbach described is no doubt already in effect as CMS has made incredible strides in their offensive game. Leading the SCIAC in the triple slash line, the Stags have asserted themselves as the conference’s undisputed powerhouses at the plate. Walkenbach explained their surge at the dish as having a domino effect.

“I think it’s collective confidence,” Walkenbach said. “Hitting is contagious. When you get a group of guys that feel good about themselves and the guy behind [them] in the lineup, it just takes some pressure off of you and you just end up maybe seeing the ball a little bit better.”

A player who no doubt adds to this collective confidence is Sanders, who hit for a .667 average and dropped 10 RBIs on the Sagehens. Sanders, who has increased his SLG by an impressive .512 points from last season, spoke on how he has taken such an enormous leap.

“It’s really been about clearing my mind at the plate,” Sanders said. “I used to overthink a lot and think about what the pitcher was doing. Now I ignore all of that and just try and hit.”

With the victories, CMS improved their overall record to 11-4 and conference record to 5-1, sitting at second behind Cal Lutheran. After a victory over Whitman on March 5, P-P now stands at 8-7 overall and 1-4 in the SCIAC putting them in eighth in the conference.

P-P will look to right their ship in a homestand against three non-conference opponents beginning with Endicott College at 1 p.m. on March 12.

Meanwhile, CMS will be riding a wave of momentum as they travel to Arizona to play in the Tucson Invitational with their first game scheduled against Allegheny College on March 10 at 10 a.m.

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