Seniors Lead Sagehens Into SCIAC Finals

Seniors Lead Sagehens Into SCIAC Finals

Thousand Oaks, Calif. - The second-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Baseball team defeated fourth-seeded Occidental 5-2 in dramatic fashion and then cruised past third-seeded Redlands 14-2 to win a pair of elimination games on Saturday and advance to Sunday's finals of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament.

With the wins, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 29-13 and will take on top-seeded Cal Lutheran (33-7-1) in the finals at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Cal Lutheran. The Sagehens will need to defeat the Kingsmen twice after battling back through the loser's bracket following yesterday's 14-8 defeat to Redlands in the opening round. Occidental ends its season at 26-15, while Redlands concludes its year at 22-18.

The Pomona-Pitzer seniors came through in a big way in both games, as senior center fielder Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.) had the game-winning RBI single with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie against Occidental. Pomona-Pitzer tacked on two more runs on bases-loaded walks to make the final score 5-2.

Senior Collin Majev (Baltimore, Md.) threw 7.2 innings in the opener and took a no-decision, but ate up vital innings as the Sagehens try to battle through the loser's bracket with a pitching staff depleted by injury. Senior Guy Stevens (Lafayette, Calif.) came on in relief to get a pop up and leave the go-ahead run on third to end the eighth, and picked up his first win of the season after the Sagehens rallied with two outs in the ninth. Stevens was the team's closer a year ago, and missed most of this season with an injury, before making his first appearance in two months last weekend on Senior Day.

In the nightcap, senior Stuart Gano (Lakewood, Wash. - pictured) threw a complete game, scattering seven hits to get the win (allowing both runs after the Sagehens had already taken an 11-0 lead), meaning that Pomona-Pitzer needed to only use three pitchers to get two wins on the day, saving its bullpen for Sunday's finals. At the plate, senior left fielder Mike Moyer (Oakland, Calif.) was 4-for-5 with four runs scored and an RBI from his leadoff spot, while senior right fielder Nick Gentili (Glendale, Calif.) added a 3-for-6, two-RBI performance.

The Sagehens took command of the Redlands game in the early innings, scoring three times in the third and seven times in the fourth. After an error brought home the game's first run, sophomore second baseman E.J. Lopez (Fresno, Calif.) hit a key two-out, two-run single to make the score 3-0.

In the fourth, junior catcher Jackson Badger (Portolo Valley, Calif.) started a seven-run rally with a single and ended it with a two-run double. Badger's leadoff single was followed by two straight hit-by-pitches, and Moyer came through with an RBI single to make it 4-0. A passed ball made it 5-0, and a sacrifice fly from sophomore first baseman Jake Bruml (San Mateo, Calif.) stretched the lead to 6-0.

Gentili kept the rally going with two outs with an RBI single, and Lopez followed with another RBI single, his third RBI of the game, to make the score 8-0. Redlands brought in its closer (Josh Makler) in the fourth inning, just to try to stop the bleeding, but Badger greeted him with a two-run double to push the lead all the way up to 10-0.

Gentili tacked on another RBI single in the fifth to make it 11-0, before Max Hardman hit a solo homer in the bottom half of the fifth to spoil Gano's shutout bid. But there was little drama the rest of the way as the Sagehens cruised to the 14-2 win.

The drama came in the opener, as Pomona-Pitzer trailed 2-0 against Occidental before a two-run sixth inning knotted the score after the first two batters of the inning were hit by pitches. After a sacrifice moved them over, junior designated hitter Travis Bowers (Palo Alto, Calif.) had a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1, and Badger followed with a clutch two-out single to knot it up.

With the score still 2-2 in the top of the ninth, freshman pinch hitter Kevin Brice (Tucson, Ariz.) led off with a key single, moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a groundout. Munzer then singled through the right side to break the tie and give the Sagehens a 3-2 lead. He then stole second, and Occidental intentionally walked Bruml, but then walked three more batters in a row to force home two runs, with Lopez and sophomore second baseman Ryan Madden (Oakland, Calif.) getting RBIs.

Majev allowed seven hits in 7.2 innings and struck out seven, including two in big spots late with the score still tied. Occidental led off the seventh with two singles and sacrificed the runners into scoring position, but Majev got a big strikeout and a groundout to third to end it. In the eighth, Occidental had two on and one out, and Majev got the second out on a K, before giving way to Stevens. A balk moved the runners to second and third, but Stevens got a pop-up into foul territory to keep the score 2-2.

Occidental got two on with out in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate, but Stevens picked up a strikeout and another foul pop-up to end the game, sending the Sagehens through to a second elimination game. After Cal Lutheran defeated Redlands in the winner's bracket to move through to the finals, Pomona-Pitzer handed the Bulldogs their second defeat of the afternoon to get through to the finals as well.

Cal Lutheran won two out of three in the regular season between the teams, although two of the Pomona-Pitzer starters in that series have since been forced out of the rotation due to injuries. The Kingsmen won the first two games 11-3 and 11-5, and the Sagehens won the third game 7-4.