Claremont, Calif. - Sophomore third baseman E.J. Lopez (Fresno, Calif.) had the game-winning RBI single as the No. 16-ranked Pomona-Pitzer Baseball team scored twice in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and nobody on base to defeat La Verne 5-4 on Friday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The game winning hit (which is pictured at right) enables Pomona-Pitzer, ranked No. 16 by the American Baseball Coaches Association, to improve to 18-6 overall and 11-5 in the SCIAC. La Verne slips to 14-8 overall and 8-5 in league play.
The Sagehens were the second team to rally from the brink in the ninth inning, as La Verne also scored twice in the ninth after having two outs and nobody on base. Pinch-hitter Dylan Leong started the rally with a walk, Jason Morales singled up the middle, and Nolan Henley doubled to straightaway center just over the head of center fielder Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.) to score two runs and give the Leopards a 4-3 lead.
Junior Robert Weller (Irvine, Calif.) came on in relief of starter Jake Bruml (San Mateo, Calif.) and threw one pitch, getting a pop-up to end the inning, which would end up giving him a rare one-pitch victory.
It didn't appear that that one pitch would mean much, as La Verne's Brett Early got the first two outs of the ninth inning on a foul pop-up and a strikeout. However, senior right fielder Nick Gentili (Glendale, Calif.) lined a single to right to put the tying run on base, and the Leopards went to the bullpen to bring in Phil Schick. Freshman first baseman Simon Rosenbaum (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) followed with a single up the middle to put two on with two outs.
Bruml, who has a career record of 12-1 and was on the hook for the loss after La Verne's ninth-inning comeback, then came up to the plate and took himself off the hook, as he found the 5-6 hole with a sharp grounder, as Gentili raced around from second with the tying run.
Munzer than followed with a grounder down the line to third which popped out of the glove of Michael Reyes, and he was unable to get to the bag for the forceout, loading the bases. Lopez then was able to turn on a Schick offering and send it back up the middle for the game-winning hit, as Rosenbaum came home with the winning run.
Bruml had given Pomona-Pitzer a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, when he singled home sophomore shortstop Sam Fox (New York, N.Y.), who led off with a double. La Verne tied the score at 2-2 in the top of the seventh on a fielder's choice grounder from Cody Hazel, but Bruml left runners on second and third to get out of it with no further damage.
The top six hitters in the Sagehen batting order all had two hits, with Bruml and Lopez each providing two RBI.
The two teams will complete their three-game series tomorrow with a doubleheader tomorrow, beginning at 11 a.m.