by Eric B. Bishop
Riding a wave of success, the University of La Verne baseball team has extended its season record to 9-2, overall and 6-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). Coming off a sweep of Pomona-Pitzer and a victory over Cal Baptist, the Leos are currently on a seven-game winning streak, taking eight of their last nine.
Against Pomona on Tuesday, ULV had no problem with its offense, beating the Sagehens, 17-5. Catcher Mike Muraca led off the game getting hit by a pitch. Dominic Mistone moved Muraca to second, grounding to the pitcher. With full count, third baseman Mark Stutzman singled in Muraca and stole second.
One out later, Robert Carreon singled in Stutzman to give the Leos a 2-0 lead after half an inning. Pomona got one run in the bottom of the first to cut the lead in half. La Verne matched that run in its half of the second, when with one out Eric Smith singled. With two outs Muraca walked and Mistone singled Smith home.
The Leos scored again in the third inning when Dominick Copas opened the inning with a walk Carreon followed with a double to left field placing runners at second and third. Two outs later, Smith got an infield single, scoring Copas and allowing Carreon to score while Smith was caught in a rundown.
La Verne extended its lead to 6-1, by scoring another run in the top of the fourth inning. Shortstop Rod Wright opened the fourth with an infield single and scored on a center field single by Mistone who was thrown out going to second following the throw to home.
Pomona finished its scoring with three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, cutting the Leos lead to 6-5. In the top of the sixth, with one out, back-to-back singles by Wright and Muraca started another Leo rally. After a flyball to right field, ULV came back with two straight singles and a hit batsman, the Leos scored Wright and Muraca but left the bases loaded.
After three runs in the seventh, making the score 11-5, La Verne went on a tear in its final at bat in the top of the ninth. Wright led off the inning with a single and scored on a double by Muraca. Following a flyout by Mistone, a walk to Stutzman and a single to Don Lockman loaded the bases for ULV. On a 0-1 count, Carreon doubled in Muraca and Stutzman.
Gregg Ratkovic then singled in Lockman allowing Carreon to take third. Carreon scored on a single by Dave Dosa which moved Ratkovic to second. Ratkovic took third on a fielder’s choice to shortstop by Smith and scored on a wild pitch to make the final score 17-5.
Tim Wells started and pitched three innings giving up six hits and four runs (two earned). Randy Mayabb pitched two-thirds of an inning with Jeff Wood pitching four and one-third innings, giving up one earned run and picking up the victory, while Tim Confair pitched one inning.
Against California State University at San Bernardino, the Leos accepted a pitching duel as starter Kevin Engle went the distance to preserve a 5-3 nonconference victory for the Leos.
ULV scored early, picking up its first run in the bottom of the first inning when with two outs Stutzman doubled to left field and was picked up by Copas. A single by Smith and a double by Wright made the score 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning. La Verne scored one more in the third, while Engle held the Coyotes scoreless through five, giving up only three hits.
San Bernardino scored two runs in the sixth on an error and home run. ULV picked two in the eighth, Copas opened the inning with a single and Dosa pinch ran. Dosa promptly stole second and scored on a single by Dale Buzzard one out later. Buzzard then scored on a single to center field by Smith. San Bernardino got one last run in the top of the ninth inning before Engle settled down. Engle gave up only five hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out seven.
In the Saturday double-header, La Verne again had no problem with offense outscoring the Sagehens 8-3 and 7-6. In the first game, ULV saw its first seven batters reached base safely. Muraca opened the game with a single, but was caught stealing. Mistone had an infield single and reached second on a ground ball by Stutzman to short which the shortstop elected to go after Mistone but was errant in his attempt.
Copas walked to load the bases and another base-on-balls to Carreon forced in Mistone. Buzzard walked to force in Stutzman and Eric Wood scored Copas with a single to center. A ground out to short scored Carreon and the Leos had built a four-run lead before they took the field.
ULV went to work again in the third inning. With one out Wood walked and Wright singled him to second one out later. Muraca reached base safely on an error by the Pomona shortstop to load the bases. A Mistone walk forced in Wood and Stutzman’s single to left center scored Wood and Wright making the score, 7-0, La Verne. Pitzer scored one in the bottom of the third before each team picked up one run in the fifth. One last run in the sixth, by the Sagehens made the final score, 8-3.
Engle again went the distance, pitching seven innings, giving up eight hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out nine.
The Leos found themselves in a closer match in the second game winning by one run, 7-6. It was ULV who once again struck first blood, picking up four runs in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Muraca doubled to left center and scored on a single by Mistone. Stutzman then singled and a home run by Copas over the left field fence took the score to 4-0.
Pomona got one back in the fourth but the Leos matched them in the fifth with two Pitzer errors and a double. The Sagehens went to work, scoring four runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to take the lead, 6-5. La Verne tied the game on a lead-off home run by Muraca which sent the game into extra innings. The Leos won the game in the 10th inning when with one out Smith singled and stole second. Wright was intentionally walked, and Muraca followed with another base-on-balls. Mistone singled to left center to score the winning run.
Buzzard pitched five innings giving up one run and two hits with four strikeouts. Chip Porter went one and one-third giving up four runs on four hits. Jeff Abel pitched the last three and two-thirds innings while picking up his second conference victory, allowing one run on four hits.
The Leos will travel to Riverside to face the University of California at Riverside in a double-header tomorrow at 1 p.m.