Photo by Nhi Casey
PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2016) – Freshman Connor Moffatt (Charleston, W.Va. / George Washington) batted 5-for-8 during the Saturday doubleheader as Caltech baseball faced Occidental College in a three-game SCIAC series this past Friday and Saturday.
Caltech 0, Occidental 18 (7 inn.)
The weekend series began with a quick 4-0 Oxy lead after the first inning. The margin ballooned to eight before Caltech threatened in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Chris McCarren (Kenilworth, Ill. / North Shore Country Day) led off with a double down the right field line and was joined on the base paths by Moffatt. The pair then executed a double steal of second and third base, still with no outs, but the next three batters were all sat down on strikes.
Oxy added two more runs in the bottom of the frame and Caltech came up with another leadoff double in the fifth, but another two punchouts and a foulout ended the Beavers' chances.
Sophomore David Watson (Windsor, Colo. / Windsor) strung together a pair of hits, including a double, to bring his total over the last three games to 7-for-10, while freshman Will Werst (Fort Collins, Colo. / Liberty Common) made his collegiate debut on the mound, striking out the final and only batter he faced.
Caltech 0, Occidental 11 (8 inn.)
The Beavers were again three-hit in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, with Moffatt becoming the first base runner with a single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Oxy, meanwhile, jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two and run-ruled the game iwith a three-run eighth inning. Caltech came close to pushing a run across in the seventh inning, loading the bases with one out, but the Tigers turned two to get out of trouble. The Beavers nearly kept the game going in the bottom of the eighth as well with a leadoff single from freshman Tucker Reese (Kennett Square, Pa. / Unionville) before loading the bases with two outs, but a sharp grounder to short ended it.
Caltech 6, Occidental 10
Freshman Jonah Krop (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) kept the nightcap tight through the first three innings, surrendering just one unearned run via walk and two errors in the top of the first. The Tigers did not get their first hit off the electric rookie until the third inning, when a walk and single put runners on first and second base with one out, but a heads-up play by sophomore Garrett Levine (Columbus, Ohio / Columbus Acad.) caught the runner advancing to second and an athletic grab by Moffatt ended the danger.
The Beavers still struggled to put together anything on offense, however, with a two-out double by Moffatt in the first inning Caltech's only hit until the sixth inning. The floodgates opened for Oxy in the top of the fourth as the Tigers put up three runs and added another five in the fifth to take the 9-0 lead.
Caltech's bats finally woke up in the bottom of the sixth inning with some help from the Tigers pitching. Senior Daniel Chou (Blue Bell, Pa. / Wissahickon) reached via error to lead off the frame and was joined by McCarren and Moffatt to load the bases with no one out. The veteran scored the Beavers' first run of the weekend on a passed ball and Levine drew a walk, which would have re-loaded the bases had the fourth ball not been a wild pitch that also allowed McCarren to score. Following a pitching change, freshman Mark Burleson (Ladera Ranch, Calif. / Tesoro) smashed a double to deep right-center to bring Moffatt home. Junior Tim Menninger (Norristown, Pa. / Chestnut Hill Acad.) drew another walk to load the bases yet again, and the Beavers pushed two more across on a double-play groundout and wild pitch before the inning ended with Caltech having cut the deficit in half at 9-5.
Chou came on in relief of Reese to start the seventh inning and proceeded to shut the Tigers down over the next 2 2/3 hitless frames while the Caltech bats again threatened to rally. The Beavers strung together three singles in the seventh, but a base running blunder erased both leadoff runners and the ensuing batters were stranded on the corners.
Junior Harrison Jacobs (Tucson, Ariz. / Catalina Foothills) crushed the ball to straightaway centerfield for a leadoff double in the eighth inning, but he too was stranded. Oxy scratched out one more run in the top of the ninth but Caltech matched, with Moffatt cracking his second double and fourth hit of the game down the right field line to plate Chou, who reached earlier via error.
The Beavers are already showcasing their major strides forward about a quarter of the way through the season. Six batters boast averages higher than last year's team leader, while the team has combined for more than a third of last year's doubles (14), runs (31) and RBI (21) while the pitching staff has limited opponents to .15 fewer points in batting average against.
Head Coach Matthew Mark and the Beavers return to the field Friday, Mar. 4 when they host Cal Lutheran University (3-4, 1-1) at 2:30 p.m.