Despite offensive inconsistency by both teams, the Leopards could only muster one win out of two against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader Sunday at Ben Hines Field.
The Leopards lost game one, 9-3, but would take game two with a score of 9-4.
The doubleheader had been rescheduled from Saturday because of rain.
Game one started out strong for the Sagehens.
They scored early in the first inning following a double to left center field, courtesy of junior designated hitter Jeremy Jess.
The Leopards struggled to find any offense in the first two innings as they were unable to register a single base hit in the first two innings.
Things did not get any easier for the Leopards in the third inning as the Sagehens added two more runs to the scoreboard following a triple to right center field by junior outfielder Brian Knapp.
A wild pitch advanced Knapp home and make the score 3-0.
The Leopards finally found offense at the bottom of the third when senior outfielder Christopher Ligot scored following a double by freshman first baseman Tanner Siffert.
The Sagehens got hot in the fifth inning and did not slow down for the remainder of game one, scoring six runs off of seven hits, between the fifth and ninth innings.
The Leopards could not find any consistent rhythm on offense as they would only score one run off of three hits between the fifth and ninth innings.
The Sagehens won game one, 9-3.
“We were lacking confidence; I think some people were getting a little scared or timid. When it’s not going our way, we need to be more confident and trust the process, trust the practice that we’ve been doing all week.” Ligot said.
As game two began, it felt as if both teams had switched roles.
It was the Leopards, not the Sagehens, that would come out swinging in the first inning.
The early offensive explosion by the Leopards resulted in four runs with Ligot, senior pitcher Christopher Peres and junior catcher Adam Santa Cruz all contributing runs.
“We came out with more energy (in game two),” Siffert said. “We bought into our hitting plan. Everyone, one through nine, was looking for their pitch that we discussed in practice, and we stuck with it throughout the game.”
The Sagehens’ offense was nearly shut down completely during the first five innings thanks to the pitching clinic put on by Peres, who would strike out eight and allow no runs during his time on the mound.
“Me and my coach talked a little before the game and just said, ‘pitch by pitch’” Peres said. “Every inning, just do your job. Let the defense play, whether I give up 30 hits or whether I strike out 10. Just do my job with each pitch.”
The Sagehens finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning with junior catcher Jack Hanley driving in a run off of junior pitcher Cody Norman.
The Leopards reignited their offense by tallying four more runs in the sixth inning thanks to Peres, Siffert and junior shortstop Jacob Benson.
The Sagehens attempted to rally back late by adding three runs over the final few innings, but never really put the Leopards in danger.
The Leopards won game two, 9-4.
Despite the strong finish against Pomona-Pitzer, players like Benson feel the team’s recent performance can be improved.
“I don’t think we performed up to our standards,” he said. “We hold ourselves pretty high out there so I think there’s a lot to improve on,” Benson said. “Having more detail in practice, bringing more energy to practice and games. Honestly just believing in each other more that we are going to get our jobs done.”
Following their series with Pomona-Pitzer the Leopards would dismantle a visiting Greensboro College, 27-4. Benson would lead the team in their blowout win, tallying three RBI and three runs, with the team combining for 24 RBI.
On Thursday, La Verne took on a visiting Drew University in a tense, defensive stalemate. Though the score sat at 2-2 for the majority of the contest, with the bases loaded during ninth inning, Peres hit his 19th RBI of the season to send junior utility player Tanner Browning home, winning the game, 3-2.
With the win, La Verne leads the league in runs, hits and RBI with 131, 176 and 121 respectively.
The Leopards move to 10-5 overall and 2-4 in SCIAC play.
The Leopards will host Ithaca at 10 a.m. March 16, then Bowdoin for a doubleheader at noon March 19. Their next conference foe will be Caltech, who will visit Ben Hines Field, March 22.
Christopher Livingston can be reached at email@example.com.