Kirk Spins Quality Start, Baseball Picks up Win on Arizona Trip

Kirk Spins Quality Start, Baseball Picks up Win on Arizona Trip
Photo by Bob Pallermini

TUCSON, Ariz. (Mar. 19, 2016) – Junior Kai Kirk (San Jose, Calif. / Wesleyan Univ.) tossed a quality start in a 5-4 victory over Augsburg College and a trio of hitters batted .500 or above during Caltech baseball's four-game Spring recess trip to Arizona.


Caltech 5, Augsburg 4

The Beavers opened their trip with a come-from-behind victory thanks to a five-run fifth inning.  Kirk struck out three batters in the top of the first inning and went on to punch out a career-high 10, although Augsburg pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the second to take the early lead.

Both pitchers retired the next six batters they faced before Caltech put runners on first and second base with a pair of two-out singles, but a deep fly out to centerfield erased the danger.  Kirk ran his streak of retired batters to nine through the fifth inning, when the Beavers had runners on the corners with none out but once again were unable to score thanks to a strikeout and double play.  Augsburg picked up a third run in the top of the sixth on a two-out RBI double.

The Beavers' bats finally clicked in the bottom of the sixth, which quickly saw the bases loaded with no outs via two singles and an error.  Freshman Tucker Reese (Kennett Square, Pa. / Unionville) and sophomore Garrett Levine (Columbus, Ohio / Columbus Acad.) each slapped two-RBI singles to clear the bases and give Caltech the one-run lead, after which sophomore David Watson (Windsor, Colo. / Windsor) brought Levine home on a sacrifice fly.  The Beavers would go on to put runners back at the corners before another fly out to centerfield ended the inning.

Looking to finish what he started, Kirk put away the first two batters of the seventh inning on a pair of fortunate lineouts.  A two-out double and single put runners on the corners and a passed ball made it a one-run game, at which point Head Coach Matt Mark called on Levine, who last year became the first Beaver since 2000 to record a save,  to put out the fire.  Levine brought the tension to a maximum as he walked the bases loaded, but then coaxed a groundout to second base to seal the victory.  Kirk turned in his first career quality start, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and two walks over the 6 2/3 innings pitched.


Caltech 1, Augsburg 6

Caltech began the nightcap with back-to-back fly outs followed by a triple from freshman Connor Moffatt (Charleston, W.Va. / George Washington), but a third fly out ended the frame.  Drawing the start in Game Two, Levine gave up a leadoff single but came up with a double play groundout and got some help from junior Tim Menninger (Norristown, Pa. / Chestnut Hill Acad.) after a hit-by-pitch, with the catcher gunning down the runner at second on a steal attempt.

Augsburg came up with two RBI singles in the bottom of the second to take the lead, but Menninger led off the top of the third with his first career home run, joining Levine and Watson as the only active Beavers to have recorded a round-tripper.  Junior Harrison Jacobs (Tucson, Ariz. / Catalina Foothills) followed immediately with a double and advanced to third on a groundout, but a strikeout and lineout ended the inning.

Augsburg bounced back with an unearned run thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the frame.  Each team was able to get only one runner into scoring position over the next two-and-a-half innings, both with two outs, and neither scored again until Augsburg's bats blew the game open with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.  The bottom of Caltech's lineup then was sat down in order to end the game.


Caltech 6, Macalester 8

Day Two began with a bang as Caltech's first four batters reached base and the Beavers went on to put three runs on the board.  Sophomore Chris McCarren (Kenilworth, Ill. / North Shore Country Day) led off with a double down the left field line and scored on a throwing error on Kirk's sacrifice bunt attempt.  Moffatt slapped a single through the left side to move Kirk to second and both advanced base on another throwing error as Reese layed down another sacrifice bunt, but reached safely.  The Beavers got two more runs on a sacrifice fly and fielder's choice, then added a fourth on Moffatt's second triple in as many games, scoring McCarren after the shortstop had doubled again down the opposite line with one out.

Freshman Jonah Krop (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) escaped some trouble in the bottom of the first inning after walking a pair of batters with two outs, but Macalester got to him in the second after the leadoff batter reached via error and the rookie walked the bases loaded.  The Scots' cleanup hitter then drew another walk to bring home the first run and the five-hole hitter smacked a two-RBI single through the right side.  A groundout RBI then tied the game, after which Krop finally got out of the inning.

Caltech's bats came up with a couple two-out singles in the third but a deep fly out by McCarren ended the frame.  The Beavers would regain the lead in the next inning, however, as Moffatt and Reese each singled with one out and Levine brought Moffatt home on a single to center.  Freshman Mark Burleson (Ladera Ranch, Calif. / Tesoro) followed with what would have been a sacrifice fly to left field, but Reese was called out for tagging up too early.

Krop avoided more damage in the fourth inning as Macalester loaded the bases with one out, but the southpaw coaxed a groundout double play to retain the lead.  Watson led off the top of the fifth with a single but consecutive sacrifice bunt attempts were foiled with excellent throws to second by the pitcher and a liner from McCarren was snagged by the second baseman.

Macalester took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the inning.  After back-to-back singles to lead off, the Scots came up with an RBI single and Krop walked the next batter before giving way to senior Daniel Chou (Blue Bell, Pa. / Wissahickon), who allowed one run to score on a groundout but then gave up a two-RBI single to right centerfield before getting the third out.

After a series of defensive replacements for the Scots, Kirk led off the top of the sixth with a single and was joined on the corners by Menninger thanks to a throwing error on a fielder's choice.  Levine then ripped a double down the left field line to plate Kirk and move Menninger to third with just one out, but a shallow fly out to centerfield was not enough to bring him home and a comebacker to the pitcher ended the Beavers' rally.  Chou kept Caltech's hopes alive with a shutdown bottom of the sixth inning and then beat out a fielding error by the pitcher to reach as the leadoff man in the seventh, but a double play and pop-up gave Macalester the 8-6 win.


Caltech 3, Macalester 9

The final game of the Beavers' trip looked to be another close one early, but a four-run second inning for the Scots made the difference as Caltech left 11 men on base, including five scoreless innings after the first two.  Macalester's first two batters moved into scoring position on singles and a wild pitch, then came home on back-to-back groundouts.  The Beavers matched that after leadoff walks from McCarren and Menninger, who scored on a single by Moffatt and double play groundout. 

The Scots' bats exploded in the top of the second, with four singles and a double netting four runs to surge ahead.  The Beavers tried to chip away in the bottom half as Chou led off with a walk and moved into scoring position alongside Jacobs, but only Chou would score on a groundout RBI by Menninger.  Macalester tacked on another run in the third and two more in the fourth as Caltech suffered two inning-ending double plays to break up any chance of a rally in the final innings.


Over the four-game slate, Moffatt and Levine each batted .500 while combining for four runs and seven RBI.  Menninger also went 4-for-7 with a walk, two runs and two RBI.

Head Coach Matt Mark and the Beavers return to SCIAC play this weekend with a three-game series against Chapman University (11-10, 5-4). The Beavers will host the doubleheader on Saturday, Mar. 26 beginning at 11 a.m.

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