CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Sixth Street Rivalry had plenty of excitement and eye-opening plays throughout the series from both sides, but the series did not go in the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team's favor as Pomona-Pitzer swept all three games: 9-8, 8-3, 7-5. The Stags (12-16, 6-9) delivered plenty of offense thanks to some solid production from senior Evan Opperman (CMC) who finished the series with two homeruns, four RBIs, and four runs, but the Sagehens (15-15, 7-8) did an excellent job limiting the damage and stringing timely rallies to win games. National homerun leader Tanner Nishioka finished the weekend with five RBIs and five runs while his teammate Nolan McCafferty totaled six RBIs and four runs.
Cade Hulse got the Sagehens on board early in the first game of the series with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. McCafferty followed with an RBI double to give the Sagehens a 2-0 lead. The Stags responded with a three-run rally sparked by a solo home run to center field from Opperman. After junior Trey Smith (CMC) advanced to third base on a passed ball, his classmate Nick DeGallier (CMC) brought him home with an RBI single and sophomore CJ Novogradac (CMC) nicked a single to left field to bring DeGallier home.
However, the rally was short-lived as Nishioka ignited a two-run rally with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. A half inning later, Opperman cut the deficit to one with another solo shot, but Sagehens made the pursuit more difficult by posting three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Opperman was the sparkplug once again for the Stags' offense, keeping CMS in the game with an RBI single in the next half inning. Smith followed with an RBI single through the left side and later freshman Henri Levenson (CMC) tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
The Sagehens fired back with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to retake the lead, but Stags refused to give up. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Smith hit an RBI single to bring the Stags within one, but the Sagehens' closer Luka Green refused to fold to the pressure and secured the final out to win game one.
The first game of Saturday's doubleheader got off to a promising start for the Stags after freshman Emmett Covello (CMC) added a run with a sacrifice fly, but the Sagehens caught fire the following half inning with a five-run rally sparked by a two-run RBI triple from Bryce Rogan.
Smith crushed a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth to put the Stags within two, but Pomona-Pitzer negated the damage with a two runs in the top of the seventh to extend the lead 7-3. Jeremy Jess held the Stags scoreless the rest of the game to finish a complete game victory.
The teams opened up the final game of the series by adding two runs each in the first inning, but the Sagehens took a large lead in the third inning after Nishioka crushed a towering three-run blast to the left field bush. Jeremiah Quezada added an RBI single to give the Sagehens a 6-2 lead. Freshman Cameron Cash (CMC) came in the third inning for relief to stop the damage and filled admirably, going 5.2 innings and surrendering only one run with four strikeouts. The Stags responded with one run after sophomore Ryan Motter (CMC) scored on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the third.
CMS came within one run after a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth, but McCafferty made the comeback tough for the Stags after he hit a solo shot over left center in the next half inning to give the Sagehens a 7-5 lead. Pomona-Pitzer came close to putting the game out of reach in the top of the eighth inning after loading the bases with two outs and Nishioka at the plate. The Sagehens' leading hitter found his pitch and drilled a screaming line drive to center field as Smith raced back to the fence. The junior had his athleticism on full display when he leapt in front of the fence and robbed Nishioka of a grand slam.
The Stags tried to ride the momentum after the big play, but the Sagehens' relief pitcher, Casey Hershfield, handled the pressure well and closed the game out with two shutout innings for his second save of the season.
CMS will play its next series against Chapman University starting on Friday, April 14 at 3 p.m.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant
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