Author: Ryan Graff
Despite some solid personal performances, the baseball team (4-10 conference, 8-17 overall) got swept in a three game series against Pomona-Pitzer this past weekend. The Tigers are struggling on offense this season, batting a mere .239 as a team and having issues with run production.
On March 25, they fell 7-1 to the number 14 Sagehens as preseason All-American pitcher David Colvin (senior) (5-1) earned a complete game victory, holding the Tigers to just three hits. Ross Pomerantz (senior) (3-6), Occidental’s Friday starter, had a quality outing of his own. He threw 129 total pitches through eight innings, striking out seven and giving up seven runs on 13 hits. Although he didn’t quite get the run support he needed, Pomerantz was proud of his stat line.
“Thirteen hits are better than five walks. It means I was around the strike zone and threw consistently. Our guys had a tough day against an All-American that will probably get drafted later this year, and I can’t blame them for not scoring more runs,” Pomerantz said.
Alec Strain (first-year), Logan Allen (sophomore) and Dale Garrett (senior) had the only Tiger hits of the game.
Allen reached base in the first inning on a hit-by-pitch and had the only extra base hit for the Tigers, a double in the bottom of the seventh. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Strain, who complemented his second inning single with the only Tiger run batted in (RBI) of the day.
Garrett, who has been starting in place of injured catcher Brenton Wunner (senior), also collected a single, as he was 1-3 for the day at the plate.
The Tigers’ impressive defensive play redeemed an otherwise mediocre Friday. The team had no errors and were sound in the field all game long.
Left fielder Chris Caldwell (first-year) flashed the glove in the bottom of the first inning when he made a sensational diving catch to help Pomerantz retire the side in order. Coach Hawkins is very pleased with his defense so far and is assured that his team will show noticeable improvement once it matures offensively.
“This is the best Tiger defense I have ever seen play. Although we have a young lineup and a bunch of first-year players who are still getting used to being college hitters, I have been extremely pleased with our defense so far. I know that once these guys mature at the plate, we will have a very solid club down the stretch,” Hawkins said.
The Tigers’ woes continued on Saturday, as they lost both games of their doubleheader against the Sagehens by scores of 3-2 and 5-3. Pitcher Cory Popham (red shirt first-year) (1-4) started the first game on the mound. He struck out six through 6.1 innings but had an unfortunate sixth inning in which Pomona-Pitzer scored two runs on three hits and a Tiger error.
Mitch Margolis (first-year) came on in relief of Popham and gave up just two hits in his 1.2 innings of work.
Strain started the second game on the bump and earned his first loss of the season. He had control issues early on and was pulled after surrendering four runs after just two innings of play. Matt Malott (first-year) came on in relief and threw 2.1 innings. Margolis and Brooks Belter (senior) pitched the final four innings, keeping the Sagehens scoreless. Belter also recorded three strikeouts.
Stephen Hilliard (senior) led the Tiger offense on Saturday. During the pair, he racked up a walk and five hits, including solo homeruns in the third inning of game one and the sixth inning of game two, respectively.
Game two was Hilliard’s first three-hit game of the season, and he was crucial to keeping the Tigers competitive. In game two, Kevin Ozaki (sophomore) had two hits and Allen extended his hit-streak to eight straight games.
These individual performances suggest that there are good things to come for the Tigers as the season progresses. The senior leaders are working hard to get the rest of the team mentally prepared for the schedule that lies ahead.
“We have been working really hard in practice. It doesn’t always translate into our games, and it can be kind of frustrating. But I am confident that we will continue to get better and get back on track to win some games,” Garrett said.
The Tigers have finished with non-conference opponents and will face all SCIAC teams for the remaining 14 games of the year. The Tigers will take the field again when they go on the road against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on April 1 at 3 p.m.
The Tigers have officially completed their schedule of non-conference opponents and will play their remaining 14 games against SCIAC opponents.
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