by Rose Garcia
Capturing a 9-2 victory over Redlands last Friday was exactly what the La Verne Baseball Team needed to start a three-game series which continued onto Saturday when the Leos split a doubleheader with the Bulldogs.
Senior Tim Wells took the mound on the Bulldogs’ field Friday with sophomore Ben Cordova working behind the plate. The Leos played with the right consistency to beat Redlands almost effortlessly. Wells pitched a complete nine-inning performance, adding a big win to his credit.
“Wells’ pitching was very credible, he should be very proud,” said Owen Wright, head coach. “The win was a great way to start the three-game series.”
At home on Saturday, the Leos started off the doubleheader with an error by Ron Hubel, which advanced Scott Begg of Redlands to second base. The Leopard defense then pulled together long enough to complete the inning.
The next two innings put Redlands ahead as its offense took control of ULV starting pitcher Paul Janssen’s fast ball. The Leopard defense was put to the test as the Bulldogs remained strong at the plate.
“It wasn’t all Paul’s fault, the defense just made too many errors,” said Wright.
In the second inning Redlands collected two runs on three hits. The Leos gave the Bulldogs the edge by committing two more crucial errors.
In the top of the third, the Bulldogs scored two unearned runs as Redlands catcher Kevin Howard and first baseman Rick Bennett both made it on base on errors. Howard scored on a shot between short and third by Robert Stone while Bennett scored on a line drive down third by Jeff Sofro, giving Redlands a 4-0 lead at the end of three.
The Leos came to the plate in the fourth inning eager to score. Alan Macleod started off with a walk, then stole second. Hubel, hit by a pitch, was followed by a walk to Ray Cherney, which loaded the bases. On a no-ball-one-strike count, a wild pitch sent Macleod home. Redlands pitcher Wade Rockwood gave his all to force a ground out by Cordova to end the Leo threat.
La Verne took the field and gave up one more run in the fifth, falling behind Redlands, 5-1.
In the sixth inning the Leos made a change on the mound and brought in Matt Solters, first year transfer player, who gave up only one more run.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Leos scored three runs on two hits. Eric Smith (5 for 12 in series) started off the rally with a double, followed by a walk and a RBI single by Hubel.
“I was struggling earlier in the season, I peaked at the right time when we needed the hits,” said Smith.
A sacrifice and pop-up to the outfield brought in two more runs for La Verne, putting the Leos in close range.
Unfortunately, the rally came too late for the Leos, as the Bulldogs picked up one more run in the seventh.
Macleod, (7 for 12, in series), lead off hitter in the eighth, hit his second SCIAC home run. But the Leos still lost the first game of the doubleheader, 6-5.
“We made too many errors in the game, after dominating the field yesterday,” said Smith.
In a stunning comeback, the Leopards prevailed over Redlands with a 9-6 victory in game three.
Starting pitcher Chip Porter pitched seven innings, giving up only one run. La Verne excelled from the beginning of the game both on the field and at the plate, with six runs scored off eight hits, two by homeruns from third baseman Jon Davenport and Hubel.
The Leos led 6-1 at the end of the seventh inning.
Porter ran into trouble in the top of the eighth, giving up five runs on four hits. With one run scored and one out, Porter gave up a walk. Redlands’ hitters Bob Miller and Bob Williford loaded the bases with two solid hits. Then Porter caught the next batter looking for the second out. But Howard (4 for 12 in series) utilized his strength and hit a grandslam homerun to tie the game, 6-6. The final out came on a fly to left field caught by Scott Root.
Cordova then came to the mound, pitching a scoreless ninth inning and earned a win with help from the La Verne offense.
When the Leos came to bat, Smith and Macleod both got to base on singles. With two men on and a no-ball-one-strike count, Hubel clutched his bat to park the ball over the le t field fence to score the winning runs and capturing his seventh homerun.
”We played a hard series and turned around during the break, the two wins is what we needed to end the series,” said Hubel.
The second victory of the series gave Wright his 400 career win. “I’m excited, Redlands was good competition,” he said.
The Leos now boast a 8-1 SCIAC record. They will host the Occidental Tigers today at 3 p.m. and then travel to the Tiger field for a doubleheader tomorrow.