CMS Baseball Drops Close SCIAC Opener Against Cal Lutheran, 5-3

Brandon Rho notched two hits and one RBI during a 5-3 loss against Cal Lutheran to open SCIAC play on Friday at Arce Field.
Brandon Rho notched two hits and one RBI during a 5-3 loss against Cal Lutheran to open SCIAC play on Friday at Arce Field.

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps baseball team fought back after being down 3-1 following the first inning to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth but could not complete the comeback as Cal Lutheran scored two runs in the top of the ninth dropping the Stags to an 0-1 start in SCIAC play with a 5-3 loss to the Kingsmen on Friday at Arce Field.

The Stags slip to 3-2 with the defeat and begin conference play 0-1 with the two-run loss to the Kingsmen. Cal Lutheran stays undefeated at 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the SCIAC with the victory. CMS is led by Brandon Rho who finished 2-for-3 with one RBI, Marco Castillo's 2-for-3 with two doubles, one walk, one run scored, and one RBI, and Patrick Gavin who drove in one run with one hit in four at-bats. Justin Hull did not receive a decision but was solid over 8.0 innings with three strikeouts, surrendering two earned runs. 

Cal Lutheran got off to a hot start against Hull as they scored three runs on three hits and one error by CMS in the top of the first inning. That opening frame was highlighted by a three-run blast to left-center field by Ryne Yamashiro, marking his first home run of the season, and pushing the Kingsmen in front 3-0. 

In the home-half of the frame, CMS responded with one run of its own. Castillo hit his first of two doubles in the game which scored Kevin Nakahara after Nakahara opened the inning with a single to right field. The Stags cut the deficit to two runs with two hits and the score stayed 3-1 going to the bottom of the sixth inning. 

Hull got comfortable on the mound for the Stags, not allowing another hit until the top of the sixth inning retiring 11 out of 13 batters until that moment when he gave up a one-out single to Ryan Probst and then retired the next two out of three batters he faced. 

The Stags rallied in the bottom of the sixth. Zach Clarke opened the offensive push with a one-out single to center and was advanced to third by the second double of the game from Castillo, putting runners at second and third with one out for Patrick Gavin. Gavin roped a two hopper just past the shortstop but it remained in the infield as Harrison Dunkel was able to knock it down allowing one run to score and cut the deficit to one run, 3-2. 

Rho lifted a fly ball to deep center field with enough room for Castillo to score on a sacrifice fly and the game was tied, 3-3 through six innings of play. Hull sat the Kingsmen down in order in the seventh as well with one strikeout to limit Cal Lutheran's bats and give the Stags a chance to win the game. In all, Hull allowed just six hits before being replaced in the top of the ninth by Josh Cordova (L, 0-1).

In the ninth, with Cordova on the mound, Cal Lutheran worked walks by Zach Bullard and Chris Spohr to put two runners on. The Stags would dig into the bullpen deeper, putting Cameron Cash on the mound hoping to get out of the jam, but following a balk pushing runners to second and third, Kyle Reuser laced a double to the left-center gap and scored Spohr and Cooper to put the Kingsmen up 5-3 going to the bottom of the ninth. 

Kingsmen reliever, Christian Slattery (Sv, 4) took the ball and earned his fourth save of the season despite allowing a one-out single to right by Rho, he struck out three batters and got out of the jam unscathed to send the Stags to defeat 5-3.

Despite the one-hit performance in four at-bats today, Clarke has seven hits in five games (.333) and is tied for first on the team with three doubles alongside Castillo. Castillo's two-hit performance is his first multi-hit game of the season and pushes him to a team-leading .412 (7-17) batting average.  

The Stags will be back in action tomorrow at Cal Lutheran with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on George "Sparky" Anderson Field inside Ullman Stadium in Thousand Oaks, California.