The Occidental baseball team (6-4 overall, 4-2 SCIAC) dusted off their broomsticks for the first time this season after a decisive series sweep of conference foe Caltech this past weekend. Throughout the three game series, the Tigers appeared to be in mid-season form, with their bats coming alive early and often on offense and their defense and pitching stifling the Beavers.
Occidental kicked off the three game stand with an offensive outburst at Anderson Field this past Friday, as they scored multiple runs in five of the six innings they batted. Junior slugger Devon DeRaad drew first blood for the Tigers by slashing a double to left field that scored third baseman Charlie Caccamo (senior) and first baseman Brady Fuller (senior). Catcher Jared Baur (first year) then drove in DeRaad. Shortstop Reid Gibbs (first year) finished off the productive first inning with an RBI single that brought in Walker Marks (junior) and pushed the Occidental lead to 4-0.
From there the Tigers never looked back, as 10 different Occidental batters safely made their way on-base throughout the game. Left fielder Jake Palumbo (first year) added on with a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
“Caltech threw some good arms this weekend and we were still able to execute,” Gibbs said. “Our coaches have been preaching to us all season about following our processes, and I think success was a product of that.”
On the mound, Occidental ace Nolan Watson* (junior) kept the Beaver bats quiet all afternoon, hurling six shutout innings while only giving up three hits and striking out nine. Closing out Friday night’s 18-0 win was Vince Pizzichini (senior), who battled back from Tommy John surgery to strike out two and did not allow a hit in his first collegiate appearance.
“I was happy to be able to get out there and get a few pitches under my belt,” Pizzichini said. “But mainly I’m glad that my teammates and coaches trusted me to go out and finish off a game, it means a lot to me that they have given me so much support over the years, and I’m really proud they trusted me to get those outs.”
Saturday the Tigers traveled to Caltech to finish the series with a doubleheader. The first game of the day followed the same pattern as Friday’s game, with Occidental jumping out to a 7-0 lead after two innings before putting the game away in the 8th to claim an 11-0 victory. The Tigers produced 19 hits while starting pitcher Will Martel (first year) only allowed a hit and a walk over five scoreless innings.
Fuller and DeRaad were again two of the primary drivers of the Occidental offense, with Fuller going 4 for 4 at the plate with four runs and DeRaad batting in three runs on a 2 for 3 effort at the plate. The rest of the team contributed as well; 10 other Occidental players collected a hit during the game.
Despite the Tigers’ offensive performance, they still had room for improvement. In total, they left nine runners in scoring position.
“There are always lots of areas for improvement, but I think the biggest one at this point is just being confident in ourselves regardless of the situation,” Fuller said.
The second game of the doubleheader started as a near carbon copy of the first two games, as the Tigers built a 9-0 lead after just five innings of play. But after starting pitcher Scott Ericksen (senior) was pulled from his five-inning, six-strikeout performance, the Beavers battled back.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers allowed their first runs of the series. Caltech had an offensive breakout and scored five runs to cut their deficit to 9-5. Occidental had no answer for the Beavers until the ninth inning, in which both teams scored runs, making the final score 10-6.
The squad’s first-year players played an integral role in the series with four starting at different positions.
“The newcomers have been huge for us so far this year and no doubt will be the rest of the way,” Fuller said. “With so many new players at different positions, most of the season is going to depend on how well we can bring it all together as a team.”
The young Occidental team will look to keep the momentum in their upcoming three-game series against CMS, with an away game this Friday at 2:30 p.m. and a Saturday doubleheader on Anderson Field at 11 a.m.
*Watson is a Weekly staff member