PASADENA (Feb. 16, 2019) - The Caltech baseball team endured some rainy Opening Day conditions but ultimately pulled through, winning its first game of the season over Providence Christian College during this weekend's three-game series to start the year.
Game 1: Caltech 4, Providence Christian 3
Wet conditions in baseball can be either favorable or unfavorable depending on the pitcher, but senior Jonah Krop (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) thrived in Friday's Opening Day start. Krop earned the quality start with nine strikeouts over six innings while walking just three batters and holding the visiting Sea Beggars to just one earned run. The senior helped himself in a big way in the third inning. Mired in a bases-loaded jam and needing two outs to escape, Krop first caused the Sea Beggars to strike out swinging before freezing the very next batter on a breaking ball to limit the damage. From that point on, Krop found a groove and held Providence Christian to just one hit the rest of the way, allowing the offense around him to take shape.
"It was great to be around the guys today and all of them were energetic and ready to go," Head Coach Kevin Whitehead said. "I told them all the first day we met that I really do not care about wins or losses. As long as we're having good days on the baseball field, I'll be happy, and we did all of the things we needed to do today."
The Beavers led the Sea Beggars, 3-1, by the time Krop exited the game. Junior Cortland Perry (New York, N.Y. / The Dalton School) relieved Krop, taking the mound from shortstop and went on to accomplish something only few in the game can claim. Despite surrendering a home run that inning, the junior came to the plate in the ensuing frame and hit a solo shot - the Beavers' first round-tripper of the season - to negate the damage and put his team back on top by two runs. With Caltech up by two runs with two innings to play and downpour and darkness playing a factor, Perry stepped up with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, finishing the game with a strikeout for the three-inning save.
"I told Cortland I wasn't 100-percent convinced that he didn't give up the home run just so he could hit one the next inning," Whitehead said. "He's just that type of competitive and that type of ball player. I thought our juniors and seniors really stepped up today and to give Jonah the lead and give him that win was a huge deal."
Caltech's strongest inning came in the sixth when senior catcher Mark Burleson (Ladera Ranch, Calif. / Tesoro) set the tone with a leadoff triple. Freshman Ryan Ruscansky (Annandale, N.J. / North Hunterdon) earned his first RBI of the season in the ensuing at-bat, scoring Burleson with a single through the right side. Ruscansky made it all the way around the bases before the next at-bat came to an end first by stealing second before advancing the third on a passed ball and then to home on a wild pitch the opposing catcher had no chance at. The Beavers' first run of the game came when freshman left fielder Dawson Beutler (Omaha, Neb. / Millard West) took advantage of an infield error by the visitors to come home from third on a hard-hit ball by Perry to the third baseman.
Game 2: Providence Christian 11, Caltech 3
Caltech found themselves very much alive in game two as the freshman, Ruscansky, took the mound for this pitching debut. He struck out a pair of batters over his 4.1 innings of work and kept his team in the game as they continued to threaten offensively on an inning-to-inning basis.
The Beavers' first run came on a base knock from freshman outfielder Spiro Stameson (Newport Beach, Calif. / Newport Harbor). Stameson's single into right field brought senior infielder Connor Moffatt (Charleston, W.Va. / George Washington) home from second base. Moffatt picked up a hit in each of the Beavers' three games this weekend, joining Burleson and Perry as the only three players to do so. Caltech threatened Providence Christian late, with Ruscansky scoring sophomore Mitchell Watson (Windsor, Colo. / Windsor) on a single into left field in the sixth inning, which Perry followed up on in the seventh for his second RBI of the series.
Game 3: Providence Christian 19, Caltech 3
The Beavers struggled to get out of the gate in Game 3, though Burleson managed to deliver in a big way late. Burleson hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning, plating Moffatt and Watson in the process. The senior's home run provided Caltech's lone offensive output of the game, though Perry also contributed a single into left-center in the first inning.
Coach Whitehead and the Beavers will return to North Field on Friday, Feb. 22 against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, the one SCIAC team Caltech has been able to beat over the last couple of seasons.