The baseball team came out swinging, as they swept the Caltech Beavers, 11-2, 9-5, and 14-3, in a series Friday and Saturday to begin Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
“I’m thrilled about the sweep,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “Caltech is a lot better than they’ve ever been. They have a good rotation, so to get out with three wins is great because I don’t think everybody’s going to get out with three wins in the series against them this year.”
The Leopards completed the sweep shutting down the Beavers in seven innings, in the final game of the series.
“It was a big score offensively, and I’m really happy with our offense in the series. We scored a lot of runs and clutch hits, so we played really good,” Winterburn said.
La Verne got on the board in the bottom of the first inning as senior left fielder Daniel McDonnell hit a two-out single to center, driving in senior shortstop Woody Reyes and junior catcher Jakob Thomas, 2-0.
Caltech tied the game in the top of the second on an error by La Verne sophomore center fielder Nicholas Michaels, which brought in sophomore center fielder Chris McCarren.
Then senior left fielder Dylan Schultz singled to bring in junior designated hitter Tim Menninger, 2-2.
The Leopards regained the lead after freshman first baseman Christopher Peres singled to left center and drove in Michaels, 3-2.
La Verne had a big third inning, scoring five runs, to take a 8-2 lead. McCarren scored the Beavers’ last run of the game when sophomore first baseman David Watson singled to left field, decreasing the Leopards lead to 8-3 in the top of the fourth.
“It was good to score all these runs, but really the game was kind of our offense and Anthony Braun, who came came in the middle there, and really just kind of stopped their offense, so that to me was the name of the game,” Winterburn said.
Braun said he came in ready to throw strikes and get the team out of that jam to stop the Beavers from scoring any further.
La Verne answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning when Reyes singled up the middle, to bring home junior second baseman Andrew Douglas.
Back-to-back doubles by junior third baseman Anthony Gonzalez and Thomas gave La Verne a 12-3 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Peres tripled down the right field line to drive in Gonzalez and Michaels, 14-3.
The Beavers could not score off sophomore closer Nick Byrd in the top of the seventh.
“Game three was a lot better, a lot more of what we were looking for,” Reyes said. “We had a lot more quality at bats, and executions, it was a better branded baseball that we play.”
Reyes finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs. In game one of the series, the Leopards scored five runs in the first three innings.
By the bottom of the third, the Beavers scored two, but La Verne continued to drive in runs, and won, 11-2, Friday at North Field in Pasadena.
“I think it was good to get the first win of the season out of the the way and offensively we came out swinging well,” Peres said. “We put together some at bats and scored some runs, so it looked good.”
To begin the doubleheader Saturday at Ben Hines Field, Caltech took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. La Verne answered back, as Thomas doubled down the left field line bringing in Reyes to tie the game, 1-1.
The Leopards piled on runs in the third and fifth innings of the first game to increase their lead 8-1. The Beavers managed to cut the deficit to three runs in the top of the eighth.
La Verne scored one last time in the bottom of the eighth, 9-5, and secured the sweep.
The team still has to work on basics and fundamentals and turn that out in the game, Reyes said.
The team also hopes to win back-to-back SCIAC championships and are one of the teams everyone hopes to take down.
“There might be a target on our back because we won SCIAC, but we’re just gonna go out there and have fun,” McDonnell said. “We just need to do things the right way, as coach has been preaching, so we should come out on top again.”
The team is now 5-2 overall and 3-0 in SCIAC.
“Just like every year, we take it one step at a time, one series at a time. We play to win,” Winterburn said. “Our goal is to always win a conference championship, but we do that one series at a time, so our focus right now is our game on Friday.”
The Leopards will face the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags this weekend, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Ben Hines Field, followed by a doubleheader with the first game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Arce Field.
Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.