By Ryan Miller '14
Claremont, Calif. - In their opening game of the 2012 season, the Pomona Pitzer Men's Baseball Team tied NAIA opponent Westmont 7-7 behind a good pitching effort from Travis Rooke-Ley (Eugene, OR), and strong offensive performances from Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, CA) and James Campbell (Lookout Mountain, TN).
Rooke-Ley took the mound for Pomona-Pitzer coming off a 7-2 season in 2011. Westmont managed two singles early but Rooke-Ley struck out their #4 hitter and catcher Travis Bowers (Palo Alto, CA) threw out a runner to end the inning.
The Sagehens responded quickly in the bottom of the first off a triple from Munzer but Westmont pitcher Daniel Cabuling worked the count on Campbell to strike him out and end the inning.
In the bottom of the second the Sagehens struck first on four straight walks forcing Westmont to call on relief pitcher Torin Shaikh. Shaikh managed a foul out and a double play to stop the damage at one run.
The middle innings came and went without consequence as Rooke-Ley for the Sagehens and Shaikh for Westmont buckled down. Pomona-Pitzer offered their only offensive threat when both Munzer and Campbell were hit by pitches, but Nick Gentili (Glendale, CA) couldn't capitalize with two outs. Munzer had a defensive gem in center field for the Sagehens as he jumped against the wall to save a sure extra-base hit from cleanup hitter Timothy Leary (play pictured - photo by Sarah Gopher-Stevens).
Rooke-Ley came into the top of the sixth pitching well but met trouble as Westmont drove in a run with an RBI double. Senior Leo Rosetti (Pacific Palisades, CA) came into the game in relief but couldn't stop the bleeding, as a bases loaded double drove in two more for Westmont and Pomona-Pitzer entered the bottom of the sixth down 3-1.
After retiring the Sagehens in order, Westmont resorted to small ball in the top of seventh, moving sophomore Brent Fukushima to third after a leadoff double. Rosetti stayed strong, striking out JJ Turbin, before giving up walks to the next two batters and hitting Coby Cress to drive in another run. Rallying back, Rosetti induced a two strike grounder from Hunter Christenson to end the inning.
The Sagehens started rallying in the bottom of the seventh as freshman Shortstop Sam Fox (New York, NY) took one on the elbow to get on first. Freshman Jake Bruml (San Mateo, CA) drove Fox in with an RBI double then advanced to third after Westmont's cutoff man threw the ball directly into an umpire. Trying to tag Bruml out at third, Westmont first baseman Hunter Christenson threw the ball away and Bruml came in to score. Back in the game at 4-3, sophomore Travis Bowers took a walk and Munzer singled him around to third.
Campbell continued the rally, singling in Bowers to tie the game. Trying to bunt, Gentili took a pitch to the leg to load the bases up for Ben Cohen (Camarillo, CA). Cohen played the role, driving a fly ball to deep right, scoring Munzer and moving Campbell to third. A tough ground ball by freshman Isaac Richard III (Oakland, CA) scored Campbell and the Sagehens ended the seventh with a five-run inning and the lead, up 6-4.
In the top of the eighth, the Sagehens brought in reliever Stuart Gano (Lakewood, WA) to preserve the lead. Three straight singles, two of them off bunts, left the bases loaded with no outs. Gano fought back, earning a strikeout before walking Westmont leadoff hitter Greg Ruggles to bring Westmont back within striking distance at 6-5.
A single by David Pennington tied the game at 6-6, bringing up Leary, who had already burned the Sagehens with an RBI double and was robbed of another by Munzer. Leary launched a ball to left to sacrifice a run in and give Westmont a 7-6 lead. Another single to left threatened to extend Westmont's lead until left fielder Mike Moyer (Oakland, CA) threw home, letting Bowers apply the tag to the advancing runner, ending the inning.
Not to be outdone, the Sagehens started off the bottom of the eighth with singles from Fox and Bowers. Two tough ground balls from Munzer and Campbell saw Westmont out of the inning and into the ninth still leading 7-6.
Pomona-Pitzer brought in junior Peter Klingman (Eugene, OR) for the top of the ninth. Despite facing a couple runners on base, Klingman worked out of the inning and gave the Sagehens a chance heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Working for a run to tie the game, Gentili singled to start off the inning and was advanced to second on a sacrifice by Cohen. A grounder from Richard moved him to third and a wild pitch brought him home to tie the game 7-7. A strikeout from Mark Okuma (Palos Verdes, CA), would have normally sent the game to extra innings, but because of darkness the game ended as tie, leaving both teams at 0-0-1 to start the season.
Munzer and Campbell were each 2-for-4, while Gentili was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, including the key tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Rooke-Ley struck out eight in 5.2 innings of work while allowing three runs. Brent Fukushima was 3-for-5 for Westmont, while David Gabel was 2-for-5 with two RBI.
The Sagehens will return to the field Monday, February 2 against Whitman, looking to earn their first win of the season.