The Occidental baseball team defeated the South Korean team SKK from Sung Kyun Kwan University 1–0 Feb. 10. The only run came on an errant pickoff throw in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and runners on first and third. The throw allowed the runner, Josh Rego (first year), to score from third base, according to assistant coach Jesse Rodgers.
According to Rodgers, coach Scott Hong ’13 organized the scrimmage game because he knew the contact in L.A. that helped SKK organize their trip to the United States. Occidental had an extra exhibition game that they had not used.
Last year, SKK won the 2017 national baseball pennant race in South Korea. According to pitcher Josh Cohen (senior), the Tigers immediately noticed that level of play. Cohen said that SKK put on a show in batting practice and that their warmups were more intense than what the team was used to.
“Before the game, they were all doing sprints along the line,” Cohen said. “Everyone was together and doing the same thing at the same time. They were pretty smooth in the infield.”
Rodgers described their warmups as rituals.
“Every time a hitter walked out of the batting cage after their round was over, they bowed and thanked the batting practice pitcher,” Rodgers said.
Pitcher Dean Abramson (senior) said that the game included the same intensity, but it was still a scrimmage and both teams treated it as such.
“It’s competitive but the underlying tone is easy because they’re here mostly for fun and to experience other cultures,” Abramson said. “You want to win, you want to play hard, but at the end, everyone was having fun and smiling.”
According to Abramson, that friendly atmosphere continued after the game ended when the two teams enjoyed a night together off the field.
“Seven of them came and hung out with us and got to see what our college was like as opposed to their college, and it seemed like they had a really good time,” Abramson said. “Super friendly.”
Cohen said he learned that every player on SKK was a sports science major and that they essentially went to school for baseball.
This is not the first time that the baseball team has scrimmaged with an overseas school. Last year, they played Rissho University from Japan and won 5–3. While Rodgers said that there were similarities in the ways that both teams treated their warmups, Cohen said that this game had a warmer mood.
“[SKK] was very open and talkative. It was a much more friendly atmosphere,” Cohen said.
The baseball team played one regular season game prior to this scrimmage, a 9–1 loss to Linfield College. Abramson said that he is going to put that loss behind him and that this win offered lessons for the team.
“Their pitchers were more nitpicky and showed that we need to work a little more hitting-wise,” Abramson said. “It also showed the level of our pitching staff, where we held a pretty good opponent to no runs.”
Since the game against SKK, Occidental has gone 2–1 in a three-game series against Whittier College and defeated Bates College 6-5. The team is back in action Friday, Feb. 23 for a three-game series against Cal Lutheran.