OXY SWEEPS REDLANDS; TWO VICTORIES AWAY FROM WINNING SEASONBy Michael Wells Sports Information Director
REDLANDS — Pedro Aldape (Sherman Oaks) hit two home runs and had six RBIs, and the Occidental College baseball team run-ruled Redlands 18-4 at the Yard on Saturday in its first game of the SCIAC singles round.
Oxy scored nine runs in the first two innings, then nine more in the sixth, seventh and eighth combined, completing a 4-0 season sweep of the Bulldogs while moving two wins away from clinching its first winning season in 22 years.
The last time the Tigers (18-15, 13-9 SCIAC) finished above .500 overall or in conference was 1990 when they were 20-14 and 12-6 in the SCIAC. The 1991 Tigers were 9-9 in conference.
For first-year Oxy head coach Luke Wetmore, who played baseball and football for Redlands as an undergraduate, picking up a road win over the Bulldogs was gratifying, but moral or personal victories are not part of his, or his team's agenda.
"It feels good playing well against Redlands regardless of the outcome," Wetmore said. "On the other hand sweeping them is not what we set out to do this year and the season isn't over yet."
With six games left, Oxy's in a good spot to make 2012 the year that turns a page on more than two decades of losing. The Tigers haven't won a SCIAC championship since 1982, but have won 23 titles since the first SCIAC baseball season in 1915.
Aldape, the SCIAC leader in RBIs (35), hit a three-run bomb in the top of the first, singled in another run in his second at bat in the third, belted a solo shot to left field in the sixth, and drew a walk that scored a run with the bases loaded in the eighth. The junior was just a few feet from hitting a third home run when he flied out to deep left in his third at bat in the top of the fourth.
The Bulldogs are probably relieved they don't have to face the power-hitting first baseman again this season. Aldape, who finished 3 for 5 on Saturday, tore up Redlands on the year, going 7 for 17 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and three runs scored.
"We've known Pedro had this kind of productivity in him since he was a freshman," Wetmore said. "It has always been about finding a way to stay consistent. I've seen a big difference in his maturity about how he approaches his game during practice and it shows."
Oxy shortstop Logan Allen (Atascadero) and right fielder Scott Hong (Los Angeles), maybe the two most athletic players in the SCIAC, both had big days in the batters box and on the bases. Allen went 2 for 5 with three runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases while Hong was 2 for 3 with four runs and a stolen base.
Oxy starter Joseph Kling (Kirksville, M.O.) improved to 4-3 on the season, earning the victory with three earned runs in six innings pitched.
After being held scoreless through the first five innings, the Bulldogs scored one run in the five, two in the sixth and one in the seventh. Connor Hancock was 1 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs for the Bulldogs.
The Tigers racked up 16 hits with six players posting multi-hit days.
Johnathan Brooks (Huntington Beach) was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, A.J. Libunao (Huntington Beach) was 2 for 4 with two runs and Dan Kelley (Kirkland, Wash.) went 2 for 5 with a run for the Tigers.
Oxy takes on first-place La Verne (23-10, 18-4 SCIAC) tomorrow at Anderson Field at 1 p.m.
"La Verne is a talented team playing good baseball," Wetmore said of the Leopards who've won six in a row and are undefeated in April. "But the game plan doesn't change and our guys know they can play with anyone if we play clean and only worry about doing our job."