Photo by Nhi Casey
CLAREMONT, Calif. (Apr. 2, 2016) – The Caltech baseball offense exploded for the most runs in a SCIAC series since 1999, scoring 19 and holding a lead in extra innings against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges this past weekend.
The Beavers last scored even 15 runs in a series against the University of Redlands from Apr. 23-24, 1999, when they plated 20. Five batters hit .300 or above as Caltech smacked nine doubles, drew 14 walks and took seven hit-by-pitches.
Caltech 6, CMS 17 (8 inn.)
The Stags opened the series with back-to-back doubles to plate a run, but a pair of fielder's choice groundouts erased the advancing baserunners to curtail what could have been a disastrous first inning for the Beavers. CMS scored three more on a sacrifice fly in the second and RBI single and sacrifice fly in the third, but once again Caltech limited the damage with some key strikeouts by junior Kai Kirk (San Jose, Calif. / Wesleyan Univ.).
The Stags tacked on another two runs on a wild pitch and RBI single in the fifth before the Beavers came up with their first hit, which keyed a four-run rally to bring the hosts right back into the ballgame. Sophomore Garrett Levine (Columbus, Ohio / Columbus Acad.) led off with a sharp double down the left field line and scored on the first double of the weekend from freshman Mark Burleson (Ladera Ranch, Calif. / Tesoro), which went right over the centerfielder's head and bounced off the wall on one hop. Sophomore David Watson (Windsor, Colo. / Windsor) slapped a single to center to put runners on the corners and Head Coach Matt Mark called for the suicide squeeze, which junior Harrison Jacobs (Tucson, Ariz. / Catalina Foothills executed to perfection as he plated Burleson and reached first base safely. Jacobs immediately stole second to put two runners in scoring position, with both scoring via groundouts by junior Jared Reed (Miami, Fla. / Westminster Christian) and sophomore Chris McCarren (Kenilworth, Ill. / North Shore Country Day).
CMS instantly regained a four-run lead in the sixth thanks to a throwing error and sacrifice fly to score a pair of unearned runs. Caltech was unfortunate not to capitalize on a two-out bases loaded situation after Levine walked, Burleson singled and Watson walked, with Jacobs lacing a line drive into left-center that was just caught. The Stags further separated themselves with three more runs in the seventh and, although the Beavers plated three more of their own in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by freshman Connor Moffatt (Charleston, W.Va. / George Washington) and two-RBI single by freshman Tucker Reese (Kennett Square, Pa. / Unionville), CMS put up the necessary five runs plus one in the eighth inning to shorten the game.
Kirk surrendered six earned runs while striking out five batters against only one walk in seven innings on the mound.
Caltech 9, CMS 12 (10 inn.)
The Beavers faced another early deficit to begin the Saturday doubleheader, but once again made the most of their first hit of the game as Kirk sent a two-out single to left field to score Jacobs in the top of the third inning. CMS extended the lead to four at 5-1 after the fourth inning, but Caltech's bats struck again in the sixth. Levine and Burleson each wore a pitch to reach base before a fielder's choice put runners on the corners. Watson then drew a walk to load the bases, but the Stags pulled their starter and the reliever struck out the first batter he faced to record the second out of the inning. Jacobs came up clutch once again with a two-RBI double and McCarren matched that immediately after to plate four runs and tie the game at 5-5.
CMS scratched out two more runs on a double in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead, but Caltech answered right back with three in the seventh to move ahead by one, 8-7. Levine walked with one out and advanced to third on another double by Burleson, then scored on an error. Watson smacked a single off the ensuing reliever to plate Burleson and senior Daniel Chou (Blue Bell, Pa. / Wissahickon) loaded the bases with another single up the middle. Jacobs smacked a sacrifice fly for his third RBI of the game and the Beavers held the lead with just two-and-a-half innings to play. Kirk gave up a single and stolen base in the bottom of the seventh, but McCarren caught the runner at third on a grounder to retain the lead. The Beavers put men on first and second with two outs in the top of the eighth, but a sharp grounder by Reese was picked up by the first baseman to end the inning.
The Stags drew a leadoff walk in the eighth to chase Kirk from the game and moved runners up to second and third with one out. MacKenzie Menthen continued to crush the Beavers' pitching with a sacrifice fly to tie the game and both teams had each of their baserunners erased on steal attempts in the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings.
The Beavers immediately jumped onto the board as McCarren led off with a double and scored on an error, but Kirk was gunned down at home trying to tag up on a shallow fly out to centerfield. The lead would be short-lived, however, as CMS drew three walks to load the bases with none out in the bottom of the 10th and Menthen smacked a walk-off grand slam to dash the Beavers' dreams of victory.
Caltech 4, CMS 14 (7 inn.)
The nightcap started inauspiciously for Caltech as the first baserunner was erased on a double play groundout, while CMS put up seven runs over the first two innings. The Beavers strung together a pair of two-out singles in the top of the third, but a strikeout ended the frame. The visitors finally got on the board in the fourth inning, with Levine scoring on back-to-back doubles along with Burleson, who crossed the plate when Chou was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
CMS immediately tacked on three more runs, however, and it was all Caltech could do to plate one in each of the next two innings before going down after seven. Burleson brought Kirk home on a bases-loaded groundout in the fifth and Kirk plated Chou with a single through the left side in the sixth. The hosts scored the necessary four runs in the seventh to shorten the game.
Kirk led the Beavers with a .429 average (3-for-7) along with three walks, two RBI and one run. Levine drew four walks and was hit by a pitch to record a phenomenal .643 on-base percentage and smacked both his hits for doubles, scoring four times. Burleson, Jacobs and McCarren each recorded four hits to post .400, .400 and .308 averages, respectively, while combining for six doubles, 10 RBI and eight runs, with Burleson also posting a .538 OBP and .700 SLG. Watson batted .333 (3-for-9) with three walks, two runs and an RBI as well.
Head Coach Matt Mark and the Beavers take on the University of Redlands (17-11, 10-8) on Friday, Apr. 8 and host the doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 9 beginning at 11 a.m.