CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team relied on a very reliable arm once again as they used six innings and six strikeouts from senior Justin Hull and a key home run from Calvin Koo to hold off the Pacific (Ore.) University Boxers on Opening Day on Friday at Arce Field.
The Stags defeated a Northwest Conference opponent on Opening Day for the second straight season, after taking down tomorrow's opponent Lewis & Clark 9-6 to begin 2019, and improved to 1-0 overall with the win. Pacific (Ore.) falls to 0-1 with the loss and travels to face another SCIAC opponent, Whittier, tomorrow at 11 a.m. for a doubleheader. CMS faces Lewis & Clark on an opening weekend for the third consecutive season in doubleheader action beginning at 11 a.m.
After a scoreless first inning, the Stags scratched across one run in the bottom of the second. Junior Patrick Gavin was hit by a pitch with one out in the frame and sophomore Brandon Rho earned a walk to put two runners on base. Senior Truman Miller reached on a fielder's choice, an error by Boxer's third baseman Jordan Hara on a throw at second base that allowed Gavin to touch home plate and put the Stags in front 1-0 through two innings.
Later in the second, Rho advanced on a wild pitch and Calvin Koo reached on a fielder's choice when Miller was out at second on a grounder back to the pitcher. Carson Bridges popped out to the pitcher to end the threat with two runners left on base on no hits and one error.
Hull set the Boxers down in order in the top of the third. In the home half of the frame the Stags would strike again. Henri Levenson singled to right field with one out and Zach Clarke followed with a single to left field putting runners at first and second. Marco Castillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Gavin.
The infielder from Santa Rosa, California lifted a fly ball to deep center field allowing Levenson to score the only run of the inning and extend the advantage to 2-0. CMS left the bases loaded as Miller scorched a well-hit liner right at the shortstop and retired the threat in the bottom of the third with the Stags up by two.
Hull allowed just his second hit of the game so far in the top of the fourth, Tyler Quinn singled to the shortstop on a tough diving play by Clarke. Hara reached on a fielder's choice and Quinn was retired at second on a throw from Castillo to Gavin putting one out on the board. An errant throw allowed another runner to reach and the two runners moved up a base on a wild pitch but Hull induced a liner to third stalling the runners at their bases and Ryan Krout flew out to left field to get the Stags out of a jam and remain in front 2-0 through the top of the fourth inning.
In the home half of the frame, Calvin Koo launched his first-career home run on the first pitch from new pitcher Tyler Quinn over the left-field fence and just fair down the line.
"The home run felt great, honestly, that felt like my best swing of the spring so far. Just great to see all of my teammates come out here have a good game and build on some energy. We were really excited about this one and I am glad we got the win." Koo continued. "Coming into today's came, our bats have been really hot during fall and early spring work. We had a lot of faith in Hull and knew he was going to give us a good game to build off of."
The sophomore has moved to first base for the first season after filling in as a utility player during his first year. "I feel really good at first base and I played a lot of that position in high school as well as got a lot of work there during fall so I am hoping I can maintain throughout the year." When asked about his last home run. "I hit one in the fall but before that was probably senior year of high school so it hasn't been too long. It was the same pitch, a fastball right down the middle and I loved to see it."
The first-pitch homer marked the first of the season for the Stags and first of Koo's career with the team. Following the homer CMS, Andrew Shults reached first on a bunt-single but was caught trying to steal second and a flyout ended a frame where the team scored one run on two hits and pushed their lead to 3-0 through four innings of play.
Hull (W, 1-0) continued to hold the Boxers at bay, tossing 100 pitches, 64 strikes to earn his first victory of the season in his season-opening start. The senior won a team-high eight games a season ago and continued his consistent work from the bump to help lift CMS past Pacific.
Pacific finally got on the board in the seventh inning when Dylan Morgan followed a Krout single to lead off the inning with a double to the right-field fence scoring Krout and cutting the advantage to 3-1. Hull put two outs on the board and then was lifted for senior left-hander Cameron Cash. Cash worked his way out of a small jam with one runner on he induced a flyout by Brad Altomare and worked his way out of the seventh.
CMS added to its lead in the bottom of the eighth when Bridges reached on a fielder's choice and a throwing error by the second baseman Altomare allowed Kallen Mueller to bring home another run and push the edge to 4-1. Rho worked a walk with one out in the inning and Mueller pinch ran for Rho at first base. Miller grounded out to short moving Mueller into scoring position and Koo earned a walk on a wild pitch that advanced Mueller to third.
Sophomore right-hander Josh Cordova (Sv, 1) was called on two work the final two innings of the game. Cordova stranded a runner on in the top of the eighth and left two on base in the top of the ninth to earn his first save of the season with three strikeouts while allowing one hit and one walk. Shults finished with two hits in four at-bats during his first game with the Stags after transferring from Grinnell College where he hit .387 over 96 games with the college.
Levenson finished 1-for-4 with one run scored, as did Clarke, while Gavin went 1-for-2 with one run scored and one RBI, and Koo finished 1-for-3 with one walk, one run scored, and one RBI for the game. Rho earned three walks and finished 0-for-1. Cash and Cordova combined to hold the Boxers scoreless over 2.1 innings surrendering just one hit while Cordova walked one and struck out three. Schults finished 3-for-4 in his first game with the Stags. The pitchers recorded nine strikeouts between two arms (Hull, 6 & Cordova, 3).
The Stags are back in action tomorrow as they face Lewis & Clark in doubleheader action scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Arce Field. The Pioneers fell 11-8 at the La Verne Leopards in eight innings today, dropping their season-opener to a SCIAC foe.