THOUSAND OAKS – Logan Allen (Atascadero) scored the game's first two runs, ace Scott Hong (Los Angeles) kept Pomona-Pitzer scoreless through five innings and the Occidental College baseball team seemed to be in good shape to stave off elimination and keep its championship hopes alive.
But the Sagehens took advantage of the Oxy pitching staff's shaky control in the later innings as they scored five unanswered runs to eliminate the Tigers from the SCIAC Postseason Tournament with a 5-2 win at Cal Lutheran on Saturday.
Three of those runs came in the top of the ninth.
Erik Munzer drove in Kevin Brice with a single through the right side and then Oxy walked in two more runs with the bases loaded, putting them behind 5-2 with three outs left.
In their last at bat of the year, Riley Smith (Bellevue, Wash.) walked and Victor Munoz (La Verne) reached on an error, giving the Tigers first and second with one out. But Jacob Lee (Olympia, Wash.) went down swinging and A.J. Libunao (Huntington Beach) fouled out to first to end the season.
It's the second game in a row that Oxy has lost in the eighth or ninth inning and a sour way to end a very good year. The day before, Oxy lost to No. 8 Cal Lutheran on a controversial play in the eighth. Oxy finishes 26-15 overall — the best winning percentage since the last Oxy SCIAC championship team in 1982 — and the Tigers finished tied for third in the SCIAC for the second consecutive year, something they hadn't done since 1990.
Allen got a pair of hits, stole two bases to get into scoring position and capitalized on Pomona-Pitzer errors to put Oxy up 2-0. After singling with one out in the third, Allen stole second, and then used a passed ball and a throwing error by Pomona-Pitzer catcher Jackson Badger to cross the plate, giving Oxy a 1-0 lead. In the fifth, the senior shortstop led off with a double, stole third and scored Oxy's second run on a ground ball that was misplayed by Sam Fox at short.
Pomona-Pitzer tied the game in the sixth. After Hong hit two consecutive batters to start the inning, Travis Bowers brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly and Badger hit an RBI-single to right, evening the score, 2-2. Thomas Lalli (Bountiful, Utah) then relieved Hong, striking out Mike Moyer to put out the fire.
Lalli pitched two more shutout innings to keep the Tigers in it. The 6-foot-7 freshman lefty didn't give up an earned run in 4.1 innings pitched in the tournament.
Oxy had opportunities to get back on top. In the seventh and eighth, the Tigers had two runners on base with one or no outs, but each time Pomona-Pitzer pitchers wiggled out the jams to keep the game tied.
Pedro Aldape (Sherman Oaks) was named to the All-Tournament team for going 3 for 8 with a double and a run scored. The senior first baseman moved to left field defensively against the Sagehens to keep the bats of Hong and designated hitter Johnathan Brooks (Huntington Beach) in the lineup.