Big first inning pushes Pomona-Pitzer past baseball 5-3 in Bobcats' season opener

Sophomore Will Sylvia collected four hits in the Bobcats' 5-3 loss at Pomona-Pitzer on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Bates baseball team tallied 13 hits but left 14 men on base in a 5-3 loss to the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens Sunday morning to begin the Bobcats' 2018 season.  

The Sagehens (4-1) scored four runs in the first inning to take a lead they did not relinquish.

Sophomore Will Sylvia (Newton, Mass.) went 4-5 with two doubles at the plate for Bates (0-1) and junior Dan Trulli (Melrose, Mass.) went 2-4 with two runs scored and a run batted in. 

Senior Connor Speed (San Diego, Calif.) took the loss on the mound for the Bobcats, going five innings, giving up four runs on five hits, walking two and striking out seven. Jeremy Jess (2-0) earned the win on the mound with five innings of two-run ball, scattering eight hits, walking three and striking out five. Jess also got the job done at the plate, going 2-4 with a double, two runs scored and a run batted in. Nicholas Radich earned his first save of the season with four innings of one-run ball out of the bullpen for the Sagehens. He struck out six batters and did not walk anyone. 

Sylvia singled to start the game and advanced to second when sophomore Jack Arend (Newfields, N.H.) drew a walk with one away. But Jess struck out the side to get out of the jam. 

Brian Knapp singled to begin the bottom of the first. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With one away, Jeremiah Quezada drew a walk and Jess singled home Knapp to put the Sagehens up 1-0. Cade Hulse singled to load the bases but Speed got Nolan McCafferty to fly out for the second out of the inning. With the bases loaded and two down, a balk brought in Quezada and Duncan Skerrett singled in two runs to make the score 4-0 in favor of Pomona-Pitzer.

Senior captain Jake Shapiro (Sandy, Utah) doubled to start the second inning and one out later sophomore Kyle Carter (Plantation, Fla.) drew a walk. But a fielder's choice and a fly out ended the frame with no runs crossing the plate.

Bates finally got on the board in the top of the third. Sophomore Giovanni Torres (North Haven, Conn.) got hit by a pitch to start the rally. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and Arend singled him to third. Trulli drove in Torres with a sacrifice fly but Arend got caught stealing for the second out of the inning. First-year Noah Loughlin (Mililani, Hawaii) and Shapiro smacked back-to-back singles back with two away but got left stranded. 

Sylvia doubled with two outs in the fourth and advanced to third on a passed ball. Torres drew a walk but both runners did not cross the plate thanks to a key strikeout to end the inning.

The Bobcats cut the deficit to 4-2 in the top of the fifth. Trulli singled to start the frame and two outs later senior Asher MacDonald (Hillsborough, N.C.) reached on catcher's interference. Carter singled in Trulli for the Bobcats' second run of the day. 

Sylvia doubled to start the sixth inning but a ground out, a strikeout and a fly out left him stranded 90 feet away.

Speed dominated after his rough first inning and after five frames the Bobcats brought in sophomore Nolan Collins (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) out of the bullpen. Three Sagehen singles loaded the bases with one out but Collins got out of the jam unscathed. 

Radich retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, the first, and the only time, Bates got sent down in order on the day. 

The Sagehens added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Jess and Hulse.

In the top of the eighth, senior Connor DiVincenzo (Westwood, Mass.) singled with one out. Sylvia followed with a single of his own but back-to-back strikeouts got Radich out of the jam.

Junior Alex Simon (Windsor, Conn.) retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth and Bates entered the top of the ninth down 5-2.

Trulli singled to begin the ninth. Two outs later, first-year Dan Brady (Brookfield, Conn.) delivered a pinch-hit double to drive in Trulli and cut the Sagehen lead to 5-3. Sophomore Pat Beaton (West Newbury, Mass) pinch ran for Brady and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But a ground out ended the game. 

The Bobcats' 13 hits are their most in a loss since they tallied 15 hits in a 10-7 loss to Southern Maine in 2016. 

Bates looks to bounce back Monday when the Bobcats take on Occidental at 4:00 p.m. eastern time (1:00 pacific).