by Heather Morales
Pouring rain and the cold wind did not stop the University of La Verne’s baseball team from holding on to defeat the Bridgewater Eagles, 8-7 on Monday night.
As the dark clouds loomed above, the Leopards took the field with veteran senior pitcher Jeff Doen on the mound, the Leopards were up to bat rather quickly as Doen struck out the side in the first.
Although La Verne did not score, the Eagles had a chance to take the lead in the second inning when the bases were loaded, but a quick out by senior second baseman Mike Smith sent the Leopards up to bat.
It was not until the third inning when freshman outfielder Kevin Johnstone and sophomore third baseman Ken Miller both drew walks from Eagle pitcher Jason Griffin that the Leopards had the opportunity to score. After Smith drew another walk, an error by Eagle second baseman Ryan Morris allowed junior shortstop Brock Whobrey to get on base and bring in Johnstone and Miller, making the score 2-0.
Errors seemed to plague the Eagles as senior first baseman Pat Murray got on base after yet another error by Morris, which brought in Smith to make the score 3-0.
The Leopards scored two more runs in the third when senior left fielder David Madrid singled in Whobrey. Murray scored on a single by junior right fielder Seth Marrs, giving them a 5-0 lead.
It seemed as though the Leopards would be unstoppable, but Marrs was forced out at second on a ground ball by Johnstone to end the inning.
As the rain soaked the field and the thunder rolled in the fourth, La Verne once again kept Bridgewater from scoring and continued increasing their lead by scoring three more runs starting with a solo home run by Miller.
“It was pouring down rain and the last thing I thought I was going to do was hit a home run,” said Miller. “It felt good.”
Another single by Madrid brought in Whobrey and Murray who were on with a single and walk, respectively, to make the score 8-0 after four innings.
“There were guys in scoring positions and I did what I had to do,” said Madrid, “nothing fancy you know.”
Just as it looked like the Leopards could not be stopped, Doen broke a blood vessel in his finger during the fifth and over confidence by the players led the Eagles to close the gap.
“We should have taken him [Doen] out sooner but we wanted him to get the win and that hurt us,” said head coach Owen Wright. “We had an 8-0 lead and we started relaxing and when you relax, you get in trouble.”
The Eagles scored four runs in the fifth off the injured Doen before the Leopards got a chance to increase their lead.
“Our intensity level dropped a little bit towards the beginning of the game,” said Madrid.
With the sun shining at the bottom of the fifth, La Verne could not seem to get back into the game.
In the sixth, sophomore Tom Barraza came in to relieve Doen only to pitch 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two to end the inning.
The Leopard offense struggled to keep their lead in the sixth, but it was hard when the Eagles brought in Bob Mitchell to relieve Griffin. Smith, Whobrey and Murray all flied out to right field.
Walks seemed to hinder the Leopards in the seventh when Barraza walked two and allowed one hit to load the bases. With three men on, Barraza walked one more and allowed the Eagles to score another run making it 8-5.
After five batters, junior Andres Loya was brought in to relieve Barraza.
An intense inning in the eighth let the Eagles score twice more, making the score 8-7.
It seemed as though La Verne had a runner in scoring position during the eighth when junior center fielder Anthony Rice hit a triple to right field but he was called out at second on an appeal because he had not touched the bag as he headed to third. Smith was thrown out at first to end the inning.
“We’re going to work on execution, bunting and touching bases,” said Wright.
Loya started the ninth strong, striking out the first two batters. A pop fly ended the game with the Leos winning, 8-7.
“This was a good game to challenge us,” said Madrid.
Last weekend the Leopards swept the Caltech Beavers in a three game series 14-1, 15-2 and 12-2.
Freshman pitcher Drew Henderson and senior pitcher George Garcia threw a combined no-hitter on Friday afternoon at Caltech.
In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, junior pitcher Sean Caldwell also pitched a no-hitter. The Leopards scored 15 runs while the Tigers scored two in the sixth.
The final game of the series gave the Leopards their third SCIAC win for the season. They were able to score 12 runs and the Tigers were able to score two.
In one of the more crucial series in the season, the Leopards will face the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens today on Ben Hines Field at 2:30 p.m. and tomorrow in a doubleheader at Pomona-Pitzer at 11 a.m.