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The La Verne baseball team defeated Chapman in seven innings, 11-1, in the second game of its doubleheader Saturday at Ben Hines Field. The Leopards dropped the first game, 7-5.
The team also defeated Caltech, 3-1, Wednesday at North Field in their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference pool play game.
The team is currently tied for first place in SCIAC with Cal Lutheran and Pomona-Pitzer with a record of 18-7 in conference and 21-14 overall.
“We played very well offensively all day,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “Obviously defensively we had a bad game in the first game and we almost came back and won it, so to have one of the facets of the game go so bad and then still be in it, we were actually like, ‘All right we still got within one swing away in the last inning.’ We swung the bats in this game to really take the series so I was really happy about that.”
La Verne opened up the scoring in the second inning after sophomore third baseman Andrew Douglas singled up the right side, bringing senior left fielder Mark Jebbia home to score.
The Leopards then capitalized on a pair of errors by Chapman junior shortstop John Wiehe. First he dropped a throw that would have completed a double play at second base, after junior shortstop Woody Reyes grounded out to first allowing junior center fielder Nolan Henley and Douglas to score.
He later let a ball get through his legs after junior second baseman Aaron Orona grounded a ball right up the middle, bringing sophomore catcher Nikko Williams home. Chapman freshman left fielder Gavin Blodgett homered to left field in the top of the third, scoring Chapman’s only run.
Junior first baseman Daniel McDonnell stepped up to the plate and helped the Leopards secure the lead in the bottom of the third.
He singled up the right field line allowing Jebbia to score, making it 5-1.
In the bottom of the fifth he delivered once again after he hit a single up the left side bringing sophomore designated hitter Jakob Thomas home to score.
“He was a terror at the plate and he was also a terror for them on the bases. He did a great job,” Winterburn said. “He drove in some big runs for us and was catalystic today for us.”
Junior center fielder Matt Caselli then tripled down the right field line, bringing McDonnell home.
Williams stepped up to the plate with two outs and singled to center field bringing Caselli home to score.
Reyes then tripled to right center bringing home Williams and senior right fielder Tyler Watkins singled to right field allowing Reyes to score, 10-1.
Finally in the bottom of the sixth, Jebbia doubled to left field and McDonnell singled to left center, driving Jebbia in and completing the game by mercy rule, 11-1.
“I know I’m not Ben (White, injured first baseman) so I was just trying to be myself and help the team win,” McDonnell said. “I just put a couple good at bats together and I drove the ball and scored some runs for us, which helped our team to win.”
Junior pitcher Brett Early picked up his sixth win of the season, striking out six and allowing for only one run on four hits in seven innings.
The Leopards will face Redlands next at 3 p.m. Saturday at The Yard in Redlands and Occidental and Whittier in a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday at Ben Hines Field for their final games in SCIAC pool play.
Sunday’s games will mark the last regular season games of the season and for the seniors’ La Verne careers.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Jebbia said. “It’s really fun because we’re in a really good spot right now and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead of us. But at the same time senior day snuck up really fast. It seems like just yesterday I was just a freshman.”
Kat Simonelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.