The University of Redlands baseball team squared up against the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges Sagehens on Saturday to complete the final, regular-season Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) series of 2018. The Bulldogs snagged the sweep of the Sagehens in two, record-breaking games that allowed the Bulldogs to become regular-season co-champions in a remarkable tie with the University of La Verne.
Prior to the start of the game, the Maroon and Gray honored the careers of its 10 seniors in right fielder Jordan Babbitt (Highland, CA), third baseman Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA), second baseman Will Hall (Seattle, WA), center fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA), pitcher Noah Jones (San Bernardino, CA), pitcher Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA), catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA), left fielder Nick Ono (Yorba Linda, CA), designated hitter Joey Warner (Indio, CA), and pitcher Adam Stead (Rialto, CA).
Stead was the starting pitcher in game one, and although the Sagehens put up two runs on two hits in the top of the first, he settled down and retired the side in order in the very next frame.
Kabeary knocked a triple up the dirt hill in right-center to lead off the bottom of the third and touched home on Gardiner's RBI-groundout to cut the deficit in half.
The Maroon and Gray tied it up in the very next inning on two hits and a Sagehen error. But the Bulldogs busted the game wide open with their five-run fifth inning to stretch their lead to 7-2.
After a pair of walks and a sharp infield single, Aguilar sent a screamer back to the pitcher for an RBI infield base hit. Junior first baseman Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) then stepped up the plate and lined a single up the middle for two RBI. This forced the Sagehens to make a pitching change. The home team tacked on one more run on a Pomona-Pitzer miscue before returning to defense.
Redlands stretched its lead on an RBI sacrifice bunt off the bat of Moore for the home team's eighth and final run of the game in the sixth.
After Stead pitched a solid seven innings, only giving up two hits, first-year pitchers Chris Fousek Jr. (San Diego, CA) and Justin Yang (Fountain Valley, CA) were called in to take care of the eighth and ninth innings. Although the visiting team added two runs in the eighth, Kabeary took care of all three outs with perfect catches in center field to end the inning.
With this win, Stead moves to an awesome, 8-0 record on the season.
Jones was handed the pearl for game three of the series, as the Bulldogs looked to complete the sweep of the Sagehens. After recording an out, Pomona-Pitzer managed to load the bases, forcing Jones to pitch out of a jam. He did just that by sitting the second out via punch-out, while Ono snagged the fly-out in left to escape the first inning unscathed.
Hall and Gardiner smacked back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the first. They crossed home plate on an Aguilar base hit and a Moore sacrifice groundout.
Unfortunately, the visiting team matched the runs on four hits in the second frame. Nonetheless, the tie didn't last long, as the Bulldogs put together another two-spot in the bottom of the third. Aguilar reached second on a double down the right-field line and subsequently advanced to third on a balk. Kabeary was credited with the RBI on his double to deep, left center.
First-year right fielder Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) led off the fourth with a hard-to-handle single to the pitcher. He touched home plate on Hall's blooper down the right-field line to put the Bulldogs up, 5-2, heading into the fifth.
Now in the seventh inning, Redlands put up two more runs on one hit, one error, and a bases-loaded walk. Although the Sagehens added a score in the top of the ninth, Aguilar tracked down a high, foul-out near the dugout to end the game with a 7-3 final score.
In the two games, Hall continued to swipe bases and ultimately reset the Redlands single-season record with 30 stolen bases. The team as a whole also reset the single-season win record with 31 impressive victories.
With this win, Redlands owns a share of the SCIAC title with co-Champs, the Leopards of the University of La Verne but due to the head-to-head outcome, La Verne will be the No. 1 seed headed into the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Redlands owns the No.2 spot while Chapman University is third and Pomona-Pitzer is fourth.
The Bulldogs (31-9, 19-5 SCIAC) are set to host Chapman University on Friday, May 4, for a single game at 3 p.m. to start the double-elimination SCIAC Postseason Tournament. They will head to La Verne to shore up the tournament on Saturday.