Approaching the end of their regular season, the Occidental men’s baseball team won one out of three games against University of La Verne April 19 and 20. The team also made a comeback against California Lutheran University April 26 and 27, winning two out of three games, improving to 24–12 overall and 12–8 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). Occidental now sits one game back of California Lutheran University for third place in the conference.
According to head coach Luke Wetmore, the team is still in contention to advance to the SCIAC playoffs.
“If we win four games, we are guaranteed to go,” Wetmore said. “So that’s our magic number. Also, if Claremont loses two, and we win two, that would put us at 11 losses and them at 12.”
According to Wetmore, winning the conference tournament is going to come down to the team’s ability to focus on the task at hand.
“When it gets overwhelming with finals week coming up and there’s a mountain of work to do, how do you get through that?” Wetmore said. “You do it by chunking things down — taking one thing at a time and getting through that assignment and checking it off the list and moving on to the next thing. We’ve talked about the same thing on the baseball side. You’re not trying to win a baseball game. You’re trying as a hitter to get a pitch to hit.”
Wetmore said many players are performing well and working hard to push the team in the right direction with positive attitudes for the rest of the season.
“On Saturday [against La Verne] we played 18 innings — I’d say 12 of those innings were pretty good,” Wetmore said. “We played good defense. We made the pitchers work. We threw strikes. It just got a little bit sideways and we started to get a little bit of pressure, and we started to tighten up a little bit and then kind of the wheels fell off.”
Wetmore said when a team wins six games in a row, they can start to feel like they are a little bit bigger than the game. According to Wetmore, it is important for a team to stay humble if they are on a winning streak.
“Sometimes you can feel like you’ve got it figured out,” Wetmore said. “Coach [Matt] Deggs at Sam Houston State has a great quote: ‘There are two kinds of people in this world. Those that are humble and those that are about to be.’”
The Tigers took home two wins against California Lutheran University April 27, winning the first game 6–4 and the second 8–1. Tom Butler (junior) pitched very well, going seven innings with no earned runs, five strikeouts, four hits and four walks, according to Oxy Athletics. Butler said his goal for the Tigers was to stick to their approaches and trust in each other as a team to play well. According to Butler, one cannot have any doubts when throwing a pitch.
“It’s believing that you have it, believing in yourself that you can throw it whenever you want, wherever you want,” Butler said.
Jared Baur (senior), catcher, said he thought the team would do well against California Lutheran University if they simply tried to play the game of baseball the way it’s supposed to be played, instead of focusing on beating the other team.
“It’s my last season so I’d like to go out on a strong suit. I think we’re in a good position to make the playoffs still, so the playoffs would be really cool. From a different perspective, just going into these last two regular-season weekends, if we were able to play really hard and give it our all, I would be very happy with that,” Baur said.
Baur said what makes California Lutheran University a difficult team to face is they go onto the field with a sense they are going to win every single time.
“I think when you play them, you can’t let that get to you,” Baur said. “You can’t put them on a pedestal and think they’re that much better than you. The best way to go about it is just to have full confidence in yourself and your team.”
According to Wetmore, Nolan McCarthy (junior) is leading the conference in running average and wins.
“He’s done a really good job,” Wetmore said. “We play with a lot of confidence when he’s on the mound. He’s done a tremendous job for us,”
McCarthy encourages the Occidental community to come out to their last home game of the season against Redlands University Friday, May 3 at 3:00 p.m. Having fans show their support energizes the players throughout the long game, McCarthy said.
“We love having the fans out there, it honestly makes the games so fun,” McCarthy said. “They’re so long and sometimes hot and boring out in the sun. Hearing people chatter and stuff, it gives the yard great energy.”