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by Ryan Miller '14
Claremont, Calif. - Behind nine shutout innings from senior Travis Rooke-Ley (Eugene, Ore.) , the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team took the first of a three game series with Cal Lutheran by a final score of 3-0 on Friday afternoon at Alumni Field.
Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.) and Nick Gentili (Glendale, Calif.) hit home runs for the Sagehens accounting for all three runs, with Munzer hitting a two-run shot in the third inning and Gentili adding an insurance run with a solo shot in the eighth. With the win, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 7-1-1 overall and 6-1 in the SCIAC, while Cal Lutheran falls to 6-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.
The game was a pitcher's duel throughout, as the Cal Lu Kingsmen sent pre-season all American Byron Minnich to the mound in the first game of the three game series against Pomona-Pitzer. The Sagehens threatened Minnich in the bottom of the first after a Munzer single and a James Campbell (Lookout Mountain, Tenn.) hit by pitch. They weren't able to capitalize, though, as Minnich induced a ground ball out of Gentili to end the inning. Gentili came into the game leading the Sagehens in batting at .643 with two home runs. He finished the game going 1-4 with a solo shot to right center.
Ultimately the Sagehens would get to the highly touted Minnich, cracking eight hits including two home runs in his 7.1 innings of work.
Cal Lutheran mounted their first offensive threat of the game in the top of the third. The Kingsmen managed two singles off of Rooke-Ley, who had been strong in the first and second innings. Rooke-Ley then hit a batter to load the bases for Cal Lutheran's other preseason All American, first baseman Nick Boggan. However, he got Boggan to swing on a low fastball, sending a routine ground ball to second baseman E.J. Lopez (Fresno, Calif.) and ending the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the third, the Sagehens struck first on a two-run home run from Munzer. After Mike Moyer grounded out to start the inning, Travis Bowers lined a single back up the middle to get on base. Munzer then stepped into a fastball to crush it a few feet over the wall in left center and put Pomona-Pitzer up 2-0. The home run was Munzer's first of the season after leading the team last year with four.
Not stopping at 2-0, Pomona-Pitzer attempted to keep up the offense in the bottom of the fifth after a double down the left field line by Ben Cohen. E.J. Lopez followed that with a walk and the Sagehens looked poised for to keep the pressure on Minnich, until he got Sam Fox to swing and miss for strike three and end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Rooke-Ley looked a bit rattled for the first time in the game, hitting the leadoff hitter square on the back. A passed ball then allowed that runner to advance to second, and with no outs, the Kingsmen threatened to capitalize on the opportunity. A chopper to short then had their base runner caught in between advancing to third and staying at second. Freshman shortstop Sam Fox (New York, N.Y.) made a fantastic defensive play, fielding the grounder and slinging it to Lopez at second to tag the lead runner out. Two fly balls later and Rooke-Ley was through seven innings with no runs and only four hits.
In the top of the eighth, Campbell started off the inning with a hard hit ball to Cal Lutheran shortstop Trevor Koons that was bobbled allowing him to reach base safely. Campbell then attempted to steal second, but a late jump allowed Koons to redeem himself for the error and apply the tag. However, Gentili then stepped to the plate and crushed a ball over the wall in right center for his third home run of the year.
Pomona-Pitzer carried that 3-0 lead into the top of ninth where Rooke-Ley charged back out to the mound to seal the victory and earn a complete game shutout. He fell behind on the first batter but came back to get a swinging strike on a changeup. Nicho DellaValle then lined one that tipped off Rooke-Ley's glove into centerfield for a base hit.
Sitting on one out with a runner on first, Rooke-Ley induced a weak fly ball to left field. Down to one out needed for the shutout, he got ahead of the batter with two straight fastballs, then threw his changeup inside. Cal Lutheran's John Leal turned away, but it broke onto the plate for a called strike three.
The final line on Rooke-Ley was nine innings pitched, two walks, three strikeouts, and no runs. The win moved Rooke-Ley to 4-0 on the season, with only one earned run in those four wins combined.
Pomona-Pitzer will compete in the second and third games of their weekend series tomorrow at Cal Lutheran.