LOS ANGELES — The Occidental College baseball team completed its weekend sweep of Caltech with two more wins on Saturday, then grabbed a piece of first place in the SCIAC a few moments after.
La Verne, which began Saturday in first, lost its second game of the day to Pomona-Pitzer shortly after Oxy finished up at Anderson Field, putting the Tigers (14-6, 9-3 SCIAC) in a first-place tie with the Leopards (13-6, 9-3 SCIAC).
Oxy has 23 SCIAC championships, but the last time they were in first seems like a distant memory. The Tigers haven't won a league championship since 1982.
Even though it doesn't mean much 12 games in, for an Occidental baseball community that has supported the Tigers through thick and thin, its a sweet sight to see the 2012 Tigers out in front.
"I'm very happy with our guys because they've worked so hard," said first-year Occidental baseball coach Luke Wetmore. "But I'm especially happy for our alums, fans and for all of those who have stuck with the program through tough times.
That said, we don't want to just be in first after 12 games, we want to be in first when it's all said and done. We'll keep on working towards that goal."
Game 1: Occidental 18, Caltech 5
The Beavers (0-18, 0-15 SCIAC) out-hit the Tigers 9-8, but Oxy took advantage of five Caltech errors and was timelier with the sticks, putting up three consecutive innings of five or more runs, from the second through the fourth.
Oxy starter Alec Strain (Sacramento) struck out three batters in four scoreless innings pitched, earning his first win of the season.
Scott Hong (Los Angeles) didn't record an official at bat, but still scored three runs and drove in another.
Game 2: Occidental 8, Caltech 5
Game 2 wasn't as comfortable, but Oxy still hung on for an 8-5 win.
With just one out in the bottom of the fourth, Caltech's Brian Penserini hit a seeing-eye-single that brought in Eric Schropp and Mason Freedman, evening the game at two.
John Ugai (Durango, Colo.) struck out the next two batters though, getting Oxy out of the fourth.
Ugai, struck out nine batters on the game in five innings work.
Oxy, which had scored 66 runs in its previous six games, seemed asleep at the plate. Through four innings, The Tigers managed just two hits.
The fifth was a different story.
Logan Allen (Atascadero) nudged the Tigers offense by leading off with a picture-perfect drag-bunt single, then Johnathan Brooks (Huntington Beach) and A.J. Libunao (Huntington Beach) both homered, putting Oxy up 5-2.
Caltech gave Oxy another scare with a three-run eighth, but a 4-4-3 double play and Ugai's final strikeout got Oxy out of the inning still holding a 7-5 lead.
Oxy added another in the bottom of the eighth. Jacob Blodgett closed the door with the save in the ninth.
The Tigers ran wild on the bases throughout the day, stealing 18 bags as a team.
Oxy hosts Rutgers-Newark in a non-conference game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Anderson Field.