by Jon Marsh
Asst. Sports Editor
The University of La Verne baseball team hosted two teams from the East Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15, and split with each in a weekend of double-headers.
In their first match-up with Glassboro State, the Leos seemed a little intimidated by the guests, as they lost 4-1. Glassboro got the first score in the third inning to go up 1-0. The Leos solo run also came in the third inning when Rod Wright started off with a single, and was driven in on a Mark Stutzman single to tie the score, 1-1. But Glassboro scored three in the fourth to hand the Leos their first and only defeat of the day.
The top hitter for La Verne was Wright who went two for two and scored the Leos’ only run.
In game two the Leos, no longer intimidated, came back to win the second contest in a 7-6 squeaker.
Although Glassboro scored the first three runs of the game, the Leo offense presented a strong come back, led by Stutzman and Wright.
Stutzman started off the fourth inning with a walk. Robert Carreon followed with a single, advancing Stutzman to third. Dale Buzzard made way for Stutzman to score when he hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
Glassboro came back with two in the fifth to increase its lead to 5-1. But the Leos again rallied with three scores in the bottom of the inning to decrease the lead to 5-4. Eric Smith walked, followed by Mike Muraca who did the same. Wright also collected a single, which scored Smith. Stutzman’s appearance at the plate was prosperous for the Leos as he powered a double to right field, tallying the last scores of the inning as he drove in Muraca and Wright.
The Leos gave up one more run in the sixth to Glassboro, but sealed the game with a three-run rally in the same inning.
With two outs and no one on, Smith hit a single to get the Leos rolling. Muraca also got a single, sending Smith to second. Wright collected a single and went to second on an error by the shortstop, scoring Smith and moving Muraca to third. Stutzman got on base by an error which scored Muraca and Wright, pulling the Leos in front of Glassboro 7-6, and securing the win.
The Leos’ production was led by Wright (two for four, two runs, two RBIs) and Stutzman (two for three, one run, two RBIs).
In Sunday’s games against Eastern Connecticut, the Leos again lost the opener, but this time by a narrow 7-6 margin.
ECU scored one run in the first, but the Leo offense produced one better to lead, 2-1. Muraca got a single and then stole second on the next series. Wright followed with a single and scored Muraca. Wright stole also, and Stutzman came up and walked. Wright later scored to tally the final run of the inning.
The Leos upped their lead in the third when Carreon walked and scored on a Dominic Mistone double.
ECU scored in the fourth to make it a 3-2 ball game, but the Leos matched their score when Smith walked followed by Jim Wolfe with a single. Smith then scored on a Carreon double to increase the margin to two runs.
The sixth inning brought dismay to the Leos as ECU scored three runs to take the lead, and scored one in the seventh to make it 6-4.
The Leos tied the score in the seventh when Carreon hit a single and Dominick Copas came up to hit his first home run of the day to even the score at six.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, ECU scored to pull away from the Leos by one. The Leos last hopes were diminished when they couldn’t produce a hit in the bottom of the ninth, and could only look ahead to game two.
ECU again scored first, and the Leos again came back to match them.
Stutzman got a double, followed by Carreon who also got a double to give the Leos a 1-1 tie.
The Leos captured the lead in the second when Rick Niles started off the hitting with a single. Niles stole second and was driven in on a Smith single which put the Leos on top, 2-1.
Each team scored two runs in the third with the Leos runs again coming from the Carreon-Copas connection. Carreon collected a single and was again followed by Copas who hit his second home run of the day.
The Leos final run came in the sixth as Copas once again rounded the bases with ease, adding his third home run of the weekend. ECU scored one in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as the Leos took the second game, 5-4.
Leos top hitters were Copas (two for three, two HRs, two runs, two RBIs) and Carreon (two for three, one run, one RBI), while pitcher Jeff Abel added a win to his record, going all but two-thirds of an inning.
The Leos will play the University of Redlands at home on Saturday, March 21, at noon, away on Tuesday, March 24, at 3 p.m., and will host Wisconsin Whitewater at 7:30 p.m., also on Tuesday.