From an alma mater that has produced four U.S. presidents, five Fields Medalists and dozens of Nobel laureates, the fields of the California Leagues might not be the most expected place to find a guy like Dario Pizzano. That doesn't mean opposing pitchers can sleep on the Columbia product.
Pizzano ripped three hits, including a home run, and drove in four as Class A Advanced High Desert rolled past Lancaster, 13-7, on Thursday night at The Hangar.
After being one-hit by the JetHawks on Wednesday, the Mavericks headed to the field with the aim of finding a fresh approach.
"We actually had a show-and-go today, just tried to not think about anything," Pizzano said. "We got there right before the game, went out and stretched and just said, 'Clear your heads and go out there.' People build off each other in a lineup like that. We have a great hitting order one through nine. Once we all started hitting, it carried over, and everyone built off everyone's successful at-bats."
High Desert began its assault in the second inning when Pizzano scored the first run of the night on a single by Steve Baron. In the third, No. 2 Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson roped a two-run double to right field, and Pizzano singled in Peterson two batters later. Patrick Kivlehan added a sacrifice fly to cap the inning.
"You've got to have some days like that over the course of Spring Training and a 140-game season," Pizzano said. "We've been playing a lot. We really haven't had a day off in a while. People start to press. We had a couple games where we were off and didn't have a lot of hits. The coaching staff did a great job seeing that we needed a day."
Kivlehan doubled in another run in the fifth and High Desert added four more in the sixth, highlighted by another RBI single by Peterson and Pizzano's sacrifice fly.
"A lot of pressure gets taken off," said Pizzano of his offense's 15-hit showing. "You don't feel the pressure of having to get the job done. All of us knew we were hitting today. I like to be in that situation obviously. I'd like to get the job done all the time, but I knew that if I didn't get the job done for whatever reason, the guy behind me was going to pick me up."
The native of Saugus, Massachusetts, batted with runners aboard in four of his five trips to the plate. As a team, High Desert went 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Every member of the Mavericks lineup had at least one hit, and six of the club's 15 hits went for extra bases. Pizzano, the former Ivy Leaguer whose school has produced two Baseball Hall of Famers -- Eddie Collins and Lou Gehrig -- tacked on a two-run homer in the eighth.
"I get the playful joking with all my teammates, 'You didn't play in a real conference' and all that stuff," he said. "Or, 'If you've got a question about anything, ask Dario. He's going to know. He went to the Ivy League.' They make cracks about my academia and my intelligence, and that's all fun and games. But I do like knowing that the Ivy League isn't looked at as a powerhouse in any sport, so when guys make it and are doing well and becoming successful, you have a little chip on your shoulder."
High Desert's Mark Anderson (2-2) allowed three hits over five shutout frames. He struck out four and walked three in the win.
Chris Devenski (1-4) was tagged with five runs -- four earned -- on six hits and two walks while striking out eight in four frames for Lancaster.