12-game win streak ends in tourney

Senior first baseman Pat Murray (#15) slides safely into second base as Lute Michael Chunn misses the ball. The Leopards beat Pacific Lutheran, 7-1, Sunday afternoon after defeating the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth earlier that morning, 5-2. La Verne finished third in the California Invitational last weekend. / photo by Melissa A. Collett
Senior first baseman Pat Murray (#15) slides safely into second base as Lute Michael Chunn misses the ball. The Leopards beat Pacific Lutheran, 7-1, Sunday afternoon after defeating the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth earlier that morning, 5-2. La Verne finished third in the California Invitational last weekend. / photo by Melissa A. Collett

by Rob Strauss
Staff Writer

Bad things often come with good. The national champion La Verne Leopards baseball team, had their 12 game winning streak snapped, but finished in third place at the California Invitational Tournament last weekend.

The Leopards finished the tournament with a 3-1 record after defeating the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, 7-1, on Sunday.

Due to poor pitching by Lute starter Mike Olsen, the Leopards were able to get a two run lead in the first inning. The Leopards scored the first run off an RBI single by junior Robert Aguirre. Olsen loaded the bases after walking senior Bobby Sherwood, which led to an RBI by sophomore Ken Miller, who reached second on an error by the shortstop.

The Leopards added another run in the fourth with a sacrifice fly by freshman center fielder Kevin Johnstone.

Senior pitcher Drew Henderson’s pitching held the Lutes scoreless until Josh Pitts hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth, which made the score 4-1.

Henderson went the distance for ULV, allowing six hits while striking out five.

The Leopards’ 12-game winning streak ended Saturday night after losing to the Eastern Connecticut State Warriors, 4-2. Last season, La Verne had a 15-game winning streak at one point in the season.

The game was scoreless through six innings until the Warriors scored off a double by Scott Chiasson in the seventh. The Warriors then added another run caused by an error by junior shortstop Brock Whobrey. Chiasson attempted to steal third when Whobrey missed a throw, enabling Chiasson to reach home.

La Verne tied the game in the bottom of the seventh off a sacrifice fly by Sherwood and a single by junior outfielder Seth Marrs, scoring Whobrey and senior first baseman Pat Murray, who were on base with a walk and a single, respectively.

The Warriors clinched the victory when Anthony Formato hit a ball up the middle, enabling Jon Gersz and George Davis to score.

“We played as well as we could,” said head coach Owen Wright. “We lost 4-2 to a very good team. We competed very well with them.”

The Leopards also scored victories against the Concordia Cobbers, 11-6, on Saturday, and the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 5-2, early Sunday.

“I think we played well,” said Whobrey, who went three for five against Concordia with a single, double and home run and scored four runs.

“We had a tough game against Connecticut,” he said.

Junior Sean Caldwell picked up the win against Dartmouth, going seven innings and allowing just five hits and two runs. Andres Loya recorded the save after two innings of work. He allowed no hits and struck out two.

The Leopards got a chance for revenge when they replayed Eastern Connecticut yesterday. La Verne came from two runs down in the 13th inning to defeat ECU, 5-4. A two-out single by David Madrid drove in Whobrey with the winning run.

Marrs feels that the team is better this year.

“Up to now I think we are doing better all around,” said Marrs.

“[The season’s] going well,” said Whobrey. “Claremont will be crucial on whether we go to regionals.”

Claremont is currently tied with Cal Lutheran at 12-0 in SCIAC. The Leopards play the Stags April 19-20, after CMS plays a three game series against Cal Lutheran.

Wright also agrees that the team is having a good season.

“We have gone 15 out of 16 since losing to Cal Lutheran,” said Wright. “You have to be happy with that.”

After Sunday’s game against Pacific Lutheran, Henderson leads all pitchers with an earned run average of 1.59. Whobrey leads all regular starters with a batting average of .415.

The Leopards next game is Friday, March 29, against Cal Baptist. The Leopards hope to begin another winning streak.

“It would not surprise me if we went on a bigger streak this time,” said Marrs.

Wednesday the Leopards lost to the Azusa Pacific Tigers, 11-9. La Verne had four home runs by Murray, Marrs, Smith and Aguirre. Murray and Smith also hit doubles.

“We hit the ball well,” said Marrs.

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