Whittier Takes Two In Extra Innings From Sagehens

Whittier Takes Two In Extra Innings From Sagehens

Claremont, Calif. – Seniors Bri Marcantoni (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Emily Buika (Long Beach, Calif.) hit extra-inning homers on their Senior Day, but it was not enough as Whittier took both games, 9-8 in the opener in nine innings and 5-4 in the nightcap in 10 innings.

With the losses, the Sagehens fall to 18-15 overall and 11-7 in the SCIAC, and miss a chance to clinch a SCIAC Tournament bid (a split would have guaranteed Pomona-Pitzer a bid). Whittier improves to 9-11 in conference play with the sweep and moves into fourth place (ahead of La Verne, which fell to 8-12 after being swept at Redlands). Pomona-Pitzer can still clinch its bid with a split tomorrow at La Verne, or in its final four games next weekend.

Buika had a particularly dramatic home run as she belted a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Sagehens trailing 4-2, her first career round-tripper.  However, Whittier scored in the top of the tenth inning, when the international tiebreaker rule was enforced (with a runner placed on second to start the inning), and the Sagehens couldn't answer in the bottom half as Emily Glass (Davis, Calif.) was left stranded on third.

Glass twice hit the top of the wall in the regulation seven innings, denying her two-run home runs which could have potentially changed the game. The first time, Pomona-Pitzer left runners on second and third with nobody out in the fourth.

The second time, the Sagehens trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Freshman center fielder Leah Bleichner (Simi Valley, Calif.) led off with a double, but went back to second to tag on Glass' hit, which went just over the head of center fielder Nikki Mendoza and off the wall, and had to hold on third when the ball stayed in play. Sophomore Caitlyn Hynes (Upland, Calif.) followed with a line drive single to right to tie the score 2-2, but the Sagehens left the two runners on.

Courtney DeLano then put Whittier ahead 4-2 in the top of the eighth inning with a two-run homer, before it was matched by the dramatic homer from Buika. DeLano, then went into the circle in relief and shut the Sagehens down the rest of the way to get the win, including with a runner placed on second in the tenth.

In the opener, Pomona-Pitzer trailed 4-0 early, but came all the way back to take a 6-4 lead with two runs in the sixth on a pair of Whittier errors. That lead almost held up, but Whittier's Courtney Grana had a two-out, two-run single down the left field line to tie the score up at 6-6.

Pomona-Pitzer nearly answered back in the bottom of the seventh, as a Bleichner double had runners on second and third and one out, but Whittier was able to wriggle out of the jam with a soft liner from Rabak and an unassisted groundout to first. Bleichner then saved the day for the Sagehens temporarily in the top of the eighth with a running catch at the wall with two outs to leave two runners stranded.

However, Whittier took advantage of a Pomona-Pitzer error to score three runs in the top of the ninth to pull ahead 9-6, the last coming on a cue ball off the end of the bat of Samantha Mellano that popped into the infield and landed over the head of pitcher Jessica Liu (Alamo, Calif.). That run seemed at the time to just be icing on the cake for Whittier, but it turned out to be huge as Marcantoni hit a two-run homer in the bottom half to get the Sagehens within 9-8.

Pomona-Pitzer nearly tied the score one batter later as junior third baseman Kathryn Rabak (Grass Valley, Calif.) hit a towering shot over the left field fence, but it crossed 10 feet foul. Rabak then went the other way for a bid at a single on a soft liner, but Whittier second baseman Alexandra Flores made a running catch over her shoulder for the final out.

Buika's two-run single keyed a four-run fourth inning as Pomona-Pitzer tied the score 4-4. Rabak drove one to the wall for an RBI single, and a single from Liu with two outs pulled the Sagehens even. Bleichner finished the opening game 3-for-5, while Glass was 3-for-5 in the nightcap.  Mendoza was 7-for-10 for Whittier (4-for-4 in the opener, 3-for-6 in the nightcap).

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action tomorrow when it travels to La Verne for a 1 p.m. doubleheader in a make-up from Friday's rainout.