The Leopards beat Whittier, 10-9, on senior day in their last home game of the season April 28 at Ben Hines Field.
La Verne improved their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record to 15-7 and their overall record to 21-16.
“It was extremely important for us to win for our seniors,” freshman pinch hitter Dylan Alhanati said. “They devote a lot of time and effort to leading our team so we had to give an all-out effort to win for them.”
In the bottom of the first inning, the Leopards got the scoring started after sophomore third baseman Chris Peres doubled to left center field to score senior first baseman Jakob Thomas, giving La Verne an early 1-0 lead.
Sophomore right fielder Chris Ligot then tripled to right center field to score Peres and give the Leopards a 2-0 advantage.
After another scoreless inning by Whittier in the second inning, senior shortstop Andrew Douglas singled to right field to score senior catcher Dylan Lowenstein and give La Verne a 3-0 lead.
The Poets responded in the top of the third inning with two runs of their own, after a single to left field by junior first baseman Matthew Macey scored senior center fielder Tanner Marcoe and junior third baseman Charlie Mayfield, narrowing the Leopards lead, 3-2.
La Verne’s offense continued to stay hot in the bottom of the third when junior designated hitter Brendan Campbell singled to left field to bring home Thomas.
Lowenstein then flied out to center field, but it was hit well enough to score Peres from third base, increasing the Leopards lead, 5-2.
Despite a three-run deficit, Whittier would not go away quietly. Senior center fielder Tanner Marcoe singled to right field to score junior catcher Michael Angulo and cut the lead, 5-3.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Peres hit a double to left center field to score Thomas, who was 2-for-2 with four runs, giving La Verne a 6-3 lead.
Whittier’s senior left fielder Jake Raynard then hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to tie the game, 6-6.
Whittier broke the tie in the eighth inning after sophomore right fielder Brandon Mulrooney hit a single to left field, scoring Marcoe and giving the Poets their first lead of the game, 7-6.
Later in the inning, Mulrooney would reach home on a fielder’s choice and Raynard would single to center field to score Macey, giving Whitter a 9-6 lead.
After holding the lead for much of the game, La Verne would now have to rally.
Peres forced a walk at the bottom of the eighth inning to load the bases and after a wild pitch, Jacob Benson scored from third to narrow the lead, 9-7.
A single by Ligot later in the inning would score Peres and Thomas, tying the game, 9-9.
La Verne would take the lead after a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt by senior center fielder Ashton Edior scored junior left fielder Nick Michaels from third.
Freshman pitcher Cody Norman then made quick work of Whitter in the ninth inning, giving the Leopards a 10-9 victory.
“It was great for the seniors to get a win in their last home game,” Thomas said. “We try to win every home game, that’s a team goal, so it was good to start off with a W.”
La Verne finished up the season with a road trip against Whittier, where they lost both games and fell to the fourth seed in the SCIAC tournament.
“We gave up too many runs when we were ahead,” senior Anthony Gonzalez said. “We struggled in every aspect of the game on both games Saturday. Defense wasn’t as good as it has been, but neither was our offense and pitching.”
The Leopards will open the tournament at Cal Lutheran, against whom they are 2-1 this season, at 3 p.m. Friday.
“We have been in this spot before,” Thomas said. “The 2015 tournament we went out and won our first game of the tournament against Cal Lutheran. So, we know we have a tough road ahead but we are all looking forward to playing against some good teams.”
Chris McMahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.