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Baseball strikes out in conference

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Chris McMahan
Staff Writer

The Leopards did not end the season with a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title, but finished fourth in the conference with a 15-9 record and an overall record of 21-20.

La Verne fell to the fourth seed after back-to-back losses to Whittier during the last two days of the regular season, forcing the team to go on the road in the tournament.

The tournament did not fall the way the Leopards way either, as they lost the opening game to host and eventual champion Cal Lutheran, 6-2, and the elimination game against Chapman, 8-7.

“I feel like sometimes we get too overwhelmed in the moment,” senior first baseman Anthony Gonzalez said. “Once your nerves are running in baseball, that can’t happen.”

La Verne had beaten Cal Lutheran, ranked No. 22 in the country, two out of three times they played them during their series in February.

Other regular season highlights included an extra inning victory over Kean University, ranked No. 14 in the country.

One of the best individual performances of the season was by sophomore pitcher Christopher Arcos, who threw a no-hitter during a doubleheader in March against Claremont Mudd-Scripps.

Head coach Scott Winterburn also hit a major milestone in late February after a sweep of Caltech, winning his 400th career game.

Senior infielder Jakob Thomas and sophomore infielder Christopher Peres were named first-team All-SCIAC following the season.

This was Thomas’ second time voted first-team and was second in the conference in home runs with 10 and third in RBIs with 40.

Peres, meanwhile, was a dual threat on the mound and at the plate.

He had a 6-2 record and a 3.06 ERA as pitcher, and a .336 batting average with 35 runs driven in as a batter.

Peres also struck out 9.72 batters per nine innings, which ranked second in the conference behind only the Pitcher of the Year.

The Leopards will lose 10 seniors before the beginning of the next season, including Thomas, but will only lose three starters overall.

“It’s going to be a good time in the summer for me to improve,” said outfielder Dylan Alhanati, who will be a sophomore once the season starts next spring. “I just wanted to contribute whenever I could (this year).”

A strong incoming freshman class could help La Verne make their second straight conference tournament after missing out on it in 2016.

“We’ve got a good team coming back,” Winterburn said.

Christopher McMahan can be reached at chris.mcmahan@laverne.edu.

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