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La Verne baseball scores with strong season

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Vanessa Martinez
Staff Writer

The La Verne baseball team had a successful season, with an overall record 29-14 and earned its 21st Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and first since 2012.

After defeating Whittier in the final series of the year, the Leopards earned a tie for the SCIAC championship with Redlands.

The Leopards beat the Bulldogs two out of three games during this season, which earned La Verne earned the No. 1 seed and hosted the SCIAC Postseason Tournament.

After winning the opening game of the tournament 24-14 the Leopards went on to lose the next two games against Redlands and Chapman, both 10-3, and were eliminated from the tournament.

We won a really tough conference this year, and I am really proud of that,” head coach Scott Winterburn said.

“Our conference did good job against outside opponents this year,” he said.

He said he was disappointed that the team lost in the conference tournament but overall felt that the season was successful and the team worked hard.

“It was amazing, probably the best feeling I’ve had in the last four years,” senior first baseman Nick Michaels said.

“As a senior and a leader I was so proud of the guys for fighting every second and earning that championship like men,” Michaels said.

The Leopards landed six players on the All-SCIAC teams and Winterburn and his assistant coaches earned SCIAC coaching staff of the year during as well.

Michaels, graduate student designated hitter Jakob Thomas, junior right fielder Chris Peres and junior left fielder Christopher Ligot earned first team honors.

Sophomore catcher Adam Santa Cruz and junior center fielder Brandon Vogel were named to the second team.

“It was a really good year and we won the conference championships in a year where our conferences was rated in the top one or two in the country,” Winterburn said.

The Leopards were 29-14 overall and 19-5 in conference play.

La Verne was led by a strong offense that scored eight runs per game.

Michaels and Thomas were a big part of the team’s offensive success.

Michaels batted .362 with five home runs and 51 runs batted in, which was tops on the team, while Thomas batted .366 with five home runs and 37 runs batted in.

Although the season ended without a bid to the NCAA tournament, the team was proud of what it accomplished.

Thomas was named top the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA Division All-West Region First Team.

Thomas earned All-Region honors for the third straight season and first team honors for the second time.

Michaels was named to the second team, and Santa Cruz and Peres were both named to the third team.

“The team had a good group of guys. We got along well, and we never stopped fighting no matter what the score was,” Michaels said. “The season was special and it was a lot of fun for us.”

Vanessa Martinez can be reached at vanessa.martinez4@laverne.edu.

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