Game 2: Occidental 9, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6
LOS ANGELES – When Claremont-Mudd-Scripps' Brett Watanabe capped a five-run comeback and tied the game with one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, it would have been easy for the Occidental College baseball team to tighten up in their third close game with the Stags in 24 hours.
But instead of letting Watanabe's homer get to them, the Tigers (10-2, 4-2 SCIAC) responded with their own rally in the bottom half of the seventh inning, squashing any hope CMS had of making a comeback and ensuring that the Tigers swept their three-game series with the Stags with a 9-5 win in the second game of a doubleheader at Anderson Field on Saturday.
Oxy catcher Victor Munoz (La Verne) started the rally by bringing home Logan Allen (Atascadero) with a single to center. Then Jacob Lee (Olympia, Wash.) hit a two-run triple into the left-center gap and A.J. Libunao (Huntington Beach) brought home Lee with sacrifice fly to center, giving Oxy a four-run cushion.
"Something we've been doing all year is not trying to do too much at the plate and getting the barrel on the ball," Lee said. "From extension on I just got this feeling, 'now I gotta run.' And then you end up on third and you're not even tired. You've got endorphins going and it's just a great feeling."
Oxy starter C.J. Maruyama (Danville) threw four great innings and ran into one bumpy one in the fifth that made an otherwise impressive start look normal. Maruyama gave up just two hits and kept CMS scoreless until the fifth inning. The freshman loaded the bases before checking out of the game with two outs. Harry Keyte (New York) went after Watanabe, but the power-hitting first baseman crushed a double to left field that cleared the bases and brought CMS within two, 5-3. Keyte got Ray Hurwitz to ground out in the next at bat to end the inning. All three runs were charged to Maruyama.
Watanabe, who finished the game 4 for 5 with six RBIs for the Stags (2-11, 1-8 SCIAC), gave CMS one more run with an RBI-single in the top of the ninth that scored Scott Witte.
Alec Strain (Sacramento), who gave up the homer to Watanabe, earned the victory. CMS starter Clayton Brock was charged with the loss.
Munoz was 3 for 8 with four runs scored on Saturday, and went 6 for 12 with six runs and two RBIs and caught all 28 innings in the series for Oxy.
Lee was 2 for 2 with two runs and two RBIS on the game.
Oxy's Riley Smith (Bellevue, Wash.) hit his second home run of the season in the first, a solo shot to left center.
Oxy beat CMS in the first two games of the series by a total of two runs. The Tigers edged CMS 6-5 in 10 innings on Friday afternoon and defeated them again Saturday in Game 1 of the doubleheader, 7-6.
Still the Tigers weren't playing their best baseball, but they're good enough to overcome even their bad days.
"Every game is really important. It looks like most teams in our conference are beating up on each other. It may take 15-18 wins to win conference this year," Occidental coach Luke Wetmore said. "We'd like to play better, we can play better and we will play better. But it's early and it looks like it's early."
Oxy returns to action next weekend against Caltech. The Tigers will host the Beavers for the first game of series on Friday at 2:30 pm and will travel to Pasadena for a doubleheader on Saturday.