Baseball sweeps Chapman, UCSD

ULV’s shortstop Brock Whobrey attempts to make the play at second. Though unsuccessful, the Leos still managed to come out on top defeating, UCSD, 8-6 and 11-10, in a nonconference doubleheader. / photo by Annette Gutierrez

by Rosie Sinapi
Sports Writer

If the Leopards plan on reaching their goal of capturing the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title and making another trip to the championships, then wins in today’s game and tomorrow’s doubleheader against Cal Lutheran will be crucial.

“The boys won’t be lackadaisical out there on Friday,” said head coach Owen Wright. “An ace sweep by either team has a lot to say about who wins the championships.

“Basically, Cal Lu and us are the teams to beat. If we can sweep, we’ll roll right through the season.”

In order to win, Wright is focusing on maintaining the team’s slugging and improving its defense and base running. And although the pitching staff is thin, Wright sees plenty of potential and feels that the team is molding together well.

Junior rightfielder Seth Marrs agrees with the need for improvement.

“We’re winning games, and we haven’t been playing our best ball yet,” he said. “We’re just going to get better.”

After a week of home stand victories, La Verne heads into today’s game with four wins and one loss.

On Tuesday night, the Leos faced Orange County powerhouse Chapman University, winning the battle 8-7.

“The game was close. It was putting gray hairs on top of my gray hairs,” said Wright after the Leopards allowed one run and two Panthers on base in the top of the ninth.

Sophomore Tom Barraza started on the mound for La Verne. Allowing two runs and two hits in the first inning, La Verne headed into the second inning down 2-0. Panther pitcher Mark Mazon showed no mercy, putting the Leopards to rest in order.

But the Leopards did not give in, coming back in the third, the Leopards gave the Panthers a taste of their own medicine, by retiring Chapman one-two-three.

At the bat, junior Anthony Rice singled and then used his quick speed to steal second. Senior second baseman Mike Smith’s sacrifice pop fly advanced Rice to third and with the pressure on, junior Brock Whobrey knocked Rice in with a single for the first Leopard run of the day.

And while Barraza pacified the Panther hitters on the mound, the rest of the Leopards tuned up their bats.

Sophomore third baseman Ken Miller hit a single into centerfield to bring home the tying run in senior catcher Bobby Sherwood.

The Leopards did not stop there. Mazon threw a wild pitch, advancing baserunners Miller and Rice to second and third.

With a 2-1 count, Mazon threw another wild pitch this time at Whobrey. Miller tagged home, and Panther catcher Jeremy Preis overthrew home plate, allowing Rice also to score, giving ULV a 4-2 lead. Smith attempted to join the Leopards to capitalize on the Chapman errors, but was thrown out to end the inning.

As the hitters heated up, Barraza began to cool down. Allowing four runs in the fifth, Barraza was replaced with reliever senior George Garcia. The Leopards came back in the bottom of the inning, when senior David Madrid hit a two run blast over the left field fence.

It wasn’t until after the seventh inning stretch that either side saw any more action. With two men on base, Sherwood hit a line drive to left field, bringing home Madrid and base runner Jiaranai Smoot.

Ahead 8-6 at the top of the eighth, Leopard errors almost cost them the game. A mishandled ball by Whobrey allowed Panther Mark Marquez a single, but the Leopards cleaned up on their next play throwing both Marquez and another Panther out for a five-four-three double play.

The sloppy play continued when the Leopards came up to bat. The Leopards lost a possible run when Rice attempted to advance from first to third on a wild pitch and did not tag second, making him the last out of the inning.

Garcia came out strong in the ninth, striking out his first hitter, but overthrowing to first on the next play and turning what should have been an out to a triple. Two batters later, Panther Cale Shepard hit a line drive for an RBI single. With the go ahead run at the plate, Panther Donny Disbro popped up to Smith for the final out. The Leopards won 8-7.

On Saturday, the Leopards faced the UC San Diego Tritons in a grueling doubleheader last Saturday on Ben Hines Field. La Verne had a 5-0 lead in the second and had worn the first of four Triton pitchers to the bone.

However, the lead was cut short by a sacrifice run in the top of the third inning. The Tritons continued to pommel the Leopards with three runs in the fifth inning, including two RBI singles past short stop Whobrey.

Wright opted to pull starter senior Jeff Doen for Garcia after the three runs. He wrapped up the inning by striking out the next hitter and throwing out another Triton to end the inning.

Rice came back for the Leopards by hitting in freshman outfielder Kevin Johnstone, putting the Leopards up 6-4.

After scoring two more times in the sixth inning, the Leopards began to fall during the seventh inning, allowing two Triton scores, including one RBI after Whobrey’s error.

If anything, the true key to the Leopard’s win was not its skill, but the lack of skill on the Triton mound.

Although La Verne lost luster at the end of the game, the huge scoring gap provided by the early Triton pitchers were just too much for UCSD to overcome. The Leopards went on to win 8-6.

With the afternoon sun beating down on Ben Hines Field, the Leopards began the second game falling behind early, allowing two runs in the first and things didn’t improve for La Verne until the bottom of the seventh.

Proving they can come back from behind, the Leopards scored eight points in the last three innings, including four in the bottom of the ninth to give the Leopards a 11-10 victory over UCSD.

Rosie Sinapi
Annette Gutierrez

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