Poets school Leopards, win series

La Verne junior second baseman Andrew Douglas beats the pickoff throw back to first base against Whittier Friday at Ben Hines Field. The Leopards beat the Poets, 17-12, in the first game of the weekend series but could not keep up their momentum, losing both games of a doubleheader, 6-3 and 2-1, Saturday at Memorial Field in Whittier./ photo by Brooke Grasso
La Verne junior second baseman Andrew Douglas beats the pickoff throw back to first base against Whittier Friday at Ben Hines Field. The Leopards beat the Poets, 17-12, in the first game of the weekend series but could not keep up their momentum, losing both games of a doubleheader, 6-3 and 2-1, Saturday at Memorial Field in Whittier. / photo by Brooke Grasso

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

It took a slugfest, but the La Verne baseball team came away with a win in the first game of its series against the Whittier Poets, 17-12, Friday at Ben Hines Field.

“It was a really sloppily played, but high-scoring game. But in a game like that you gotta stay with it, and that’s all we tried to do. That’s what we did, and we ended up pulling away in the end,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “I’m happy, but that wasn’t an easy one.”

The team could not bring the momentum back in the doubleheader Saturday at Memorial Field, and fell 6-3 and 2-1.

La Verne is now 16-8 overall and 9-6 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

In game one of the series Friday, the Poets got on the board in the top of the first inning, but the Leopards answered back with four runs to take a 4-1 lead.

The Poets scored two runs in the next inning to get within one, 4-3.

Once again, however, the Leopards answered back with a single to center field by freshman third baseman Chris Peres that sent senior shortstop Woody Reyes home, 5-3.

Whittier scored two runs to tie the game in the top of third, 5-5. Bats were hot and La Verne came out swinging, in the bottom of third, scoring eight runs.

“It was one of those types of things where our offense clicked and we didn’t have anyone in our lineup stopping the momentum,” senior center fielder Nolan Henley said.

With the bases loaded, Whittier sophomore pitcher Matthew Macey walked junior catcher Jakob Thomas home, after La Verne freshman right fielder Brandon Vogel was hit by a pitch.

Henley hit a double down the left field line, driving senior left fielder Daniel McDonnell and junior designated hitter Anthony Gonzalez home.

Junior second baseman Andrew Douglas and Peres each singled on their consecutive at bats to bring home Henley, and Reyes.

Peres went 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

Back-to-back errors by the Poets allowed the Leopards to bring two more runs home.

The last run of the inning came off of a sacrifice fly to right field by Gonzalez, as White came home, 13-5.

“We were seeing the ball pretty well,” Thomas said. “We had good at bats and good approaches, and I’m glad that everyone collectively in the lineup had good that.”

Whittier came back scoring four runs in the fourth and fifth inning to cut their deficit, but the Leopards answered with one in the bottom of the fifth, 14-9.

The Poets brought in three runs in the top of the seventh, to get within two, 14-12.

Senior pitcher Javi Iniguez came in to relieve senior pitcher Brett Early in the top of the eighth inning.

La Verne extended its lead in the bottom of the eighth inning with three runs.

Sophomore Nick Michaels and junior Ashton Editor replaced McDonnell and Vogel at left and right field.

Henley singled to left field driving Michaels home. Reyes followed and hit a bunt single to bring home Edior.

Freshman Eric Munsey came in at second base to replace Douglas, who was hit with a fastball to the inside of the knee in the seventh inning.

Douglas went 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.

Munsey reached first on a fielder’s choice and Henley was brought in to score, 17-12.

Whittier battled it out, but could not score any more runs, and the Leopards came away with the win.

Iniguez earned his second save of the season.

“It was a slugfest between offense and defense,” Henley said. “We just need to be sharp, focus, and even if we get up on a big lead, we still have to stay on top of it, and not let that go.”

Henley went 3-for-5 and three RBIs.

“We definitely have to improve on some defense. We’re a good defensive team and we just have to prove that and be more relaxed,” Thomas said. “Catch the ball, throw the ball and just keep putting together good at bats.”

In Saturday’s doubleheader at Memorial Field, the Leopards got on the board in the first and second inning, scoring two runs, 2-0.

The Poets tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run homer by Macey.

La Verne sophomore pitcher Nick Byrd came in the bottom of the eighth inning, in hopes to hold the tie.

However, Whittier came out swinging, and scored four runs to take a 6-2 lead.

La Verne managed to bring in another run in the top of the ninth, but it was not enough.

Byrd was charged with his first loss of the season.

In the last game of the series, the Leopards were stunned on a walk-off home run to right field by the Poets.

The Poets got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead.

The Leopards tied up the game in the top of the seventh inning.

Whittier was able to seal its win with a walk-off homer by senior first baseman Max Bradshaw.

“We’re going to have to pitch the ball better, work on our fast ball better on both sides of the plate and we’re going to have to catch the ball better,” Winterburn said. “If we come up with some similar hitting plans, I think we’ll score some more runs if we can do that.”

The team will face Pacific Lutheran this weekend in non-conference play at 3 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday at Ben Hines Field.

Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu.

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