Summer 2023 /Historic Causes/

Sagehens Still in the Spotlight

Ryan Long ’21 Strikes Out Mike Trout

Photo by Paul Stodart, British Baseball Federation/GB Baseball

Photo by Paul Stodart, British Baseball Federation/GB Baseball

The situation Ryan Long ’21 found himself in on March 11 was almost unfathomable. The 6-foot-6 former Sagehens pitcher was on the mound for Great Britain against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix when Mike Trout came to the plate. Long, a minor leaguer who was drafted 497th overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2021, was facing Trout, the three-time American League MVP and 10-time All-Star.

And down went Trout after Long struck him out with a 94-mph fastball.

“It was just a really surreal experience. Something that I’ll definitely hold onto forever,” Long says of playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Long realized he was eligible to play for Great Britain because his mother, Liz, was born in England. He asked Pomona-Pitzer Coach Frank Pericolosi if he had connections to the British Baseball Federation and Pericolosi put him in touch with alumni who did.

Months later, Long was pitching at Chase Field in Great Britain’s opening game against Team USA.

“I think before this the biggest crowd I ever played in front of was about 7,000, maybe 8,000. This was 40,000,” Long says.

His early nerves settled after he went on in relief in the fourth inning.

“Once I got out there and got on the mound, my heartbeat started to slow down a little bit, which was cool,” Long says.

He gave up a home run, “one that I’m not too upset about because it’s a major league All-Star,” he says of the blast by Kyle Schwarber, who led the National League in homers last season.

The next inning, Trout came to the plate.

“First of all, he’s obviously an amazing hitter but their whole lineup was filled with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers,” says Long.

He got Trout to a 3-2 count and decided to stay with his best pitch, his fastball.

“He fouled the first two off,” Long says. “He didn’t seem like he was seeing it as well as he might normally be. I decided to throw it again and it got past him. That was a very, very exhilarating feeling—a lot to take in.”

Long moved up to the Orioles’ High-A team in Aberdeen, Maryland, this season and still has a goal of reaching the majors, but he won’t forget playing for Great Britain.

“I think that will go down as one of the best, if not the best, experiences I’ll ever have in this game.”

Melissa Barlow ’87 Officiates NCAA Tournament Game

Melissa Barlow ’87 Officiates NCAA Tournament GamesIn a banner year for women’s college basketball, Melissa Barlow ’87 was in the middle of an NCAA tournament that garnered record ratings.

Decades after she played point guard on Pomona-Pitzer’s standout teams of the 1980s, Barlow still runs the floor as a top NCAA Division I women’s basketball official. She called three games during the 2023 tournament, including the Sweet 16 game in which Iowa star Caitlin Clark scored 31 points in a win over Colorado.

Barlow has officiated in 10 Final Fours and three NCAA championship games, assignments that are earned through round-by-round reviews by officiating supervisors. She also has been yelled at by some of the best in the business—the late Pat Summitt of Tennessee, Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, Kim Mulkey of Louisiana State—and can laugh it off later.

For years, officiating was a sidelight to a highly successful career in the pharmaceutical industry that enabled Barlow, a biology major at Pomona, to retire at 53 from her job as national sales director for the metabolic division of AbbVie.

She encourages other former women’s players to get into officiating, too.

“I try to tell them: You get the best seat in the house, you get a workout and they pay you to watch these great games.”