WHITTIER, Calif. (Apr. 19, 2019) – The Caltech baseball team earned its fifth SCIAC win of the season at Whittier College on Saturday in 9-7 fashion, for its second victory at Whittier in two years. Friday marked the first time this season the Beavers have taken a SCIAC bout in the opening game of the series and now have its highest conference win total since the 1960 season.
Friday: Caltech 9, Whittier 7
Freshman right-hander Dawson Beutler (Omaha, Neb. / Millard West) got the start for Caltech and pitched well enough to keep his team in the game after the Beavers provided him six runs of offense in the fourth inning. Beutler cruised through the game's first five innings, surrendering just one run over that span. The freshman nearly made it six innings, but regardless maintained a decent WHIP, allowing just over one baserunner per inning thanks to excellent command of the strike zone. Beutler walked just one Poet and struck out two, becoming the sixth Caltech pitcher to find the win column this season.
Caltech scratched runs across in the first and second innings, though the six-run fourth inning ultimately gave the Beavers enough confidence to hold the lead for the remainder of the game. Five different players picked up RBI's, though junior outfielder Alex Corado (San Diego, Calif. / Scripps Ranch) led the way with two and freshman Max Popken (Westport, Conn. / Staples) earned hits in four of his six at-bats. The sixth-inning run began with a single from sophomore infielder Dillon Holder (New York, NY / Horace Mann) and later got extended thanks to a Whittier error that allowed Beutler to advance from third. From there, the Beavers churned out three doubles with Popken, Corado, and senior catcher Mark Burleson (Ladera Ranch, Calif. / Tesoro) picking up the trio of two-baggers in that order to score Caltech's final four runs of the inning.
Although the host Poets threatened late, junior Cortland Perry (New York, N.Y. / The Dalton School) pitched out the final three innings for the Beavers and brought his best stuff to the table. The junior struck out six Poets over that final stretch to end the game and give the visiting Beavers one of their most important victories of the season to date with a chance to come home on Saturday and win its first SCIAC series since the 1970's.
Saturday Game 1: Whittier 8, Caltech 6 (10 inn.)
Both offenses came to life in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader in Pasadena. Both Caltech and Whittier combined for a whopping 29 hits over 10 innings but also combined to leave 18 runners on base as most of the damage for both teams came in bunches. After the Beavers and Poets traded runs in the first inning, Caltech struck big in the fourth inning just as it did the night before, this time hanging four runs on the visitors. The home team opened the inning with some small ball, loading the bases for freshman outfielder William Cook (El Segundo, Calif. / Windward School). Cook responded in the moment with a two-run single into right field to score seniors Burleson and Connor Moffatt (Charleston, W.Va. / George Washington). With two runners on, Perry then cashed in on one his four hits of the game with a double down the left field line to score both Holder and Cook.
Whittier came surging back, but strong defensive decisionmaking led to Caltech escaping the sixth inning with a one-run lead which they held until the ninth inning. Perry pitched for the second time in as many days, this time relieving senior starter Jonah Krop (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) in the ninth inning in a save situation with the potential to pitch the Beavers to a monumental victory. However, it was not to be. The junior retained all the good stuff that got him through Friday's appearance but with two outs on the board gave up a two-run home run that turned the tables and gave Whittier a 6-5 advantage going into the bottom ninth. Determined to salvage the runs in the batter's box, Perry churned out a gritty at-bat and got aboard with a single up the middle before stealing second to get into scoring position for Popken. Popken responded with a double into left-center that scored Perry and tied the game at six runs apiece to force just the second extra-innings game in the history of the renovated North Field. The Poets ultimately got the better of the Beavers in the 10th inning, but Caltech's refusal to go down made for arguably the team's most exciting game of 2019.
Saturday Game 2: Whittier 4, Caltech 0
If the first game of Saturday's doubleheader was all about the offense, the later game could only be classified as a pitcher's duel. Freshman right-hander Ryan Ruscansky (Annandale, N.J. / North Hunterdon) got the start for Caltech and nearly pitched the complete game before running into trouble in the ninth inning. Through the game's first eight innings, however, he held Whittier to just one run, exhibiting excellent command of the strike zone. Freshman Pierce Governale (Tampa, Fla. / Berkeley Preparatory School) got the final out of the ninth, making his second successful appearance of the weekend. Burleson, who started this game in right field, led the Caltech offense with a pair of hits and a stolen base.
Head Coach Kevin Whitehead and the Beavers will look to get back on the saddle when they host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges for the first of a three-game series on Friday, Apr. 26.