CLAREMONT, Calif. – Patrick Gavin (CMC) stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second for his first collegiate at bat and drilled the second pitch he saw over the left field fence for his first career home run. CJ Novogradac (CMC) added a solo homer in the sixth inning, but the power from Gavin and Novogradac was unable to lift the Stags over the Willamette Bearcats as CMS fell in their season opener 4-3 on Friday afternoon.
The Stags had chances late. In the seventh, CMS trailed by one with the bases loaded and two down, but a diving catch by the Willamette left fielder ended the threat. The Bearcats kept the Stags off the bases in the eighth and ninth and Willamette held on for the 4-3 victory.
As mentioned, the Stags took an early lead thanks to the homer from Gavin in the bottom of the second. With one away in the frame, Gavin drilled a belt-high fastball over the fence in left-center to open the scoring in the season. In addition to his big fly, Gavin legged out an infield single to finish his collegiate debut 2-4 at the dish.
In the top of the third the Bearcats got on the board with a four run inning. After a single up the middle and a walk put the first two runners on, Willamette attempted to sacrifice the runners over. A heads up play from CMS starter, Cameron Cash (CMC) cut down the lead runner and got the first out of the frame at third. A walk loaded the bases and Perry Van Eckhardt notched his only hit of the day with a two-run single up the middle.
Cash got the next batter to strike out, but back-to-back infield errors allowed two more runs to score. With runners on second and third, Cash struck out his second batter of the inning and ended the frame with Willamette holding a 4-1 advantage.
CMS loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the third thanks to a single from Kevin Nakahara (HMC), a double from Trey Smith (CMC), and a hit by pitch from Henry Levenson, but a fly ball ended the threat without a run crossing the plate.
Following the Bearcats' four-run inning, the CMS pitching staff shutdown the Willamette offense. CMS allowed just two hits over the final six frames with lead off knocks in the fourth and eighth innings.
While the bullpen was doing their job, the CMS offense was attempting to mount a comeback. In the sixth, Novogradac hit a towering solo home run down the left-field line to cut the Willamette lead to two at 4-2. An inning later, Patrick Shore (CMC) led off the frame with a double down the line and later scored on a Chase Eller single up the middle. Trailing 4-3 later in the inning, CMS once again loaded the bases with two outs and Novogradac ripped a ball over Connor Bailey's head in left. Baily dove for the ball just shy of the hill at the base of the left-field wall and made the catch to end the inning and save the game for the Bearcats.
In the top of the eighth, Willamette first baseman, Eric Del Prado hit a ball that appeared to bounce off the scoreboard to start the inning. The umpires ruled that the ball hit the fence and Del Prado ended up on third base with a triple. A Stags' pitching change brought John O'Malley (CMC) into the game and he proceeded to wiggle out of the jam with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to keep it a one-run game.
The Stags were unable to get anything going at the dish in the eighth or ninth and fell by a 4-3 final.
On the mound, Cameron Cash went six innings while allowing just four hits and four runs (two earned). In relief duty, Nick DeGallier (CMC) and John O'Malley combined for three innings of one-hit ball while O'Malley collected four strikeouts against just one walk.
The Stags will be back in action tomorrow morning when they host Lewis & Clark in a doubleheader beginning at 11:00 a.m.