Tigers scratch Leopards in sweep

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

The baseball team could not swing big, as its losing streak was extended to seven, after being swept by No. 24 Occidental.

The Leopards dropped the first game of the series, 8-2 Friday at Ben Hines Field.

The team then could not bounce back in its doubleheader, falling 12-2 in seven innings, and 8-2 in six innings Saturday at Anderson Field.

“We lacked in all three major categories of the game; pitching, hitting and defense,” junior catcher Jakob Thomas said.

“They beat us in every aspect of the game. We were not ready to come out and get two wins.”

La Verne falls to 16-13 overall and 9-9 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

“When you hit a point like this in the season, you just have to play for pride,” senior center fielder Nolan Henley said.

“At this point, you don’t worry about the record. You’ve got to go out and beat the other team for competition’s sake.”

In Friday’s game, the Tigers struck first and scored three runs to take a 3-0 lead in the top of third inning.

With bases loaded, the Leopards got on the board on a wild pitch to freshman left fielder Chris Ligot that brought senior first baseman Ben White home to score, 4-1.

La Verne senior pitcher Brent Backlund loaded the bases in the top of the fifth after hitting junior designated hitter Devon DeRaad on a pitch.

Backlund then walked freshman right fielder Jack Brancheau, which brought home senior first baseman Brady Fuller, 5-1, but the bases were still loaded.

“The loss was disappointing because we had a chance to get back on the right track,” Backlund said.
“It felt like I was just a little off in my locations and they did a good job of putting the ball in play despite the rain.”

Senior pitcher Brett Early came in to relieve Backlund in the top of fifth inning, in hopes to stop the bleeding.

“Coming in for Brent, I knew my job was to keep the team in the game. Bases loaded no outs is always a tough situation so I tried to stop the bleeding as fast as possible,” Early said. “After that and for the rest of the game I just wanted to get the team back in the dugout so we could hit.”

However, Occidental scored two more runs to take a 7-1 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Henley singled to left field to bring home White, for La Verne’s last run of the game, 7-2.

DeRaad homered in the top of the ninth to right field and the Leopards could not rally back, resulting in a loss.

The Leopards finished the game with a season-low four hits.

“I threw up some zeros on the board but our offense couldn’t fire back,” Early said.

“I’ll give it to Oxy and their pitcher. They played great defense and threw a ton of strikes and we simply weren’t ready to hit the fastball.”

La Verne hoped to bounce back from the loss, but could not handle Occidental’s hitting.

Once again, the Tigers got on the board first with six runs in the bottom of the second and fourth inning to take a 6-0 lead.

Thomas answered back with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning to cut La Verne’s deficit to 6-2.

Thomas finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

However, that was as close as they would get, as the Tigers bats stayed hot.

Occidental scored six more runs to enforce the mercy-rule after seven innings.

The Tigers kept their momentum going into the second game of the day, as they got on the board first to take a 5-0 lead.

The Leopards brought in a run in the top of the third with a double to right center by White to bring home senior shortstop Woody Reyes to score.

Occidental answered back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend their lead, 8-1.

Thomas then hit his second homer of the day to left field in the top of the fifth, 8-2.

“Those swings felt good and it was nice to help my team offensively,” Thomas said. “Just have to have a good approach and good things will happen. We all have to execute the situation given to us.”

Thomas finished the game 1-for-2 with an RBI.

The game was then called due to the rain after six innings.

“We just have to play better and not give up,” Thomas said.

“We lost several in a row but those are over. All we can do now is focus and prepare for the games ahead of us.”

The team hopes to break its losing streak as they face the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen at 3 p.m. Friday at George Sparky Anderson Field, followed by a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. at Ben Hines Field.

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

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