The baseball team came up short in all three of its games against the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen Friday and Saturday, losing, 8-5, 4-2 and 6-2.
With the sweep, the Leopards extend their losing streak to 10.
“We played a little better than we’ve been lately. We’ve been losing a lot of games, but we played a little better today, just not good enough,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “It was a good team we played and I thought it was three pretty good ball games, but we just came up on the short end all three times.”
The team is now 16-16 overall and 9-12 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
In the first game of the series Friday at Ullman Stadium in Thousand Oaks, the Leopards took an early 2-0 lead.
However, the Kingsmen answered back in the bottom of the fifth with a three-run homer by senior second baseman Chad Clark.
Cal Lutheran extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth with three runs, going up 6-2.
La Verne got within one in the next inning, 6-5, but Cal Lutheran came out swinging in the seventh.
The Leopards could not answer back as the Kingsmen took the first game, 8-5.
La Verne started strong in the first inning of the first game of the doubleheader Saturday at Ben Hines Field. Senior first baseman Ben White hit a double deep into right center in the first driving in freshman third baseman Chris Peres and putting the Leopards up by one.
The Leopards were able to hold the Kingsmen off until the top of the fifth, when Clark tied the game with a single through the right side driving in senior third baseman Davey Casciola.
Senior pitcher Brett Early started the game off strong for the Leopards, but was replaced by freshman Alex Gorzelany in the top of the sixth.
Senior pitcher David Mckeller then came in for the Leopards in the top of the sixth and threw two innings, striking out three and only allowing two hits.
“I felt pretty good, but I was just trying to keep my team in the game and give them a chance to win,” Mckeller said.
With two outs and runners on first and third, the Kingsmen successfully executed a double steal putting them in the lead.
Cal Lutheran senior shortstop Max Price then singled through the left side driving in junior center fielder Justin Cana and extending their lead, 3-1.
The Leopards answered back in the bottom of the sixth after senior left fielder Daniel McDonnell singled through the left side driving Peres home to score.
However, La Verne’s rally was cut short after sophomore designated hitter Mark Abatte grounded out into a double play.
“I was just hoping to get a pitch that I could handle, but then he threw me two breaking balls so I was down in the count, 1-2,” McDonnell said. “I saw the breaking ball a couple times so I knew if he threw it I would be able to handle it and he did and I got it past third.”
La Verne was not able to put any more hits together and dropped the first game 4-2.
In game two, Cal Lutheran started off the first inning on top after junior first baseman Jimmy Jauregi singled up the middle driving Clark home to put the Kingsmen up 1-0.
Kingsmen senior right fielder Ramsey Abushahla scored on a balk by sophomore pitcher Nick Byrd in the third, extending Cal Lutheran’s lead to 2-0.
The Leopards started to rally in the bottom of the third after White singled through the left side driving junior catcher Jakob Thomas in to score.
“Going into the at bat I just wanted to hit something hard up the middle, put a good barrel on it and once I got to two strikes I was just trying to let the ball get out there,” White said. “He threw a couple of really tough pitches in there on the inside corner that I had to fight off and luckily he missed over the wide off the plate with a fastball and i was able to put a good barrel on it.”
Peres then scored on a wild pitch by junior Cal Lutheran pitcher Marshall Pautsch, tying the game at two.
After a slow fourth inning, Cal Lutheran took the lead in the fifth after junior left fielder Gabriel Gunter hit a double through center sending Clark home to score, 3-2.
Kingsmen junior center fielder Sinjin Todd then singled to La Verne shortstop Woody Reyes sending Gunter home and put the Kingsmen up 4-2.
The Leopards were unable to recover and the Kingsmen added two more runs in the ninth, securing their win, 6-2.
The team hopes to end its losing streak heading into their final series of the regular season.
La Verne is back in action against the Chapman Panthers with senior day at 3 p.m. Friday at Ben Hines Field followed by a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in Orange.
Kat Simonelli can be reached at email@example.com.