The baseball team pitched dominantly in a commanding 6-1 win against Chapman in a non-conference match-up Saturday at Ben Hines Field.
Freshman Bennett Vogel took the mound for the Leopards for his college debut.
“I was a little bit nervous at first, but I just stuck to what’s given me success and kept battling and throwing strikes,” Vogel said.
The Leopards offense took an early lead by scoring two runs and stealing two bases in the first inning, making it 2-0. By the end of the second inning, the Leopards led 4-0.
“I’m glad we were able to take control of the game early, we stuck to our approach and our defense kept us in the game,” junior outfielder Brandon Shiota said. “It was huge, especially against a well respected team like Chapman.”
The Leopards showed potent defense in the third inning by helping Vogel escape a jam with an outfield assist from freshman outfielder Logan Reese to get the leadoff hitter out and clear the bases.
Vogel then settled in, with a groundout to sophomore shortstop Anthony Salcedo, ending the inning. Vogel kept the momentum going to pitch a clean fourth and fifth inning. He finished the game going five scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
The Leopards turned to junior pitcher Gerald Terry to close out the game. He did not disappoint, pitching back to back 1-2-3 innings with three strikeouts and only one run allowed in four innings of work.
“My slider was working really well today,” Terry said. “I was able to get one of their better hitters to roll over on a 3-2 slider. My defense really helped behind me too.”
The Leopards offense struggled to find hits in the middle of the game and could not string any together at the right time, leaving the score 4-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning.
That is when sophomore second baseman Chase Siffert got the Leopards back on the board with a double to center field, bringing Salcedo home. Siffert was not finished, as he also singled in the eighth inning to push Salcedo home once again, making the score 6-0.
Chapman managed to score its lone run in the ninth with one out.
“We don’t want to look too far ahead,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “Every day is different, every pitch is different and every hitter is different in baseball. We’re trying to teach our guys to be ready for the next thing to happen and as long as we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
The Leopards’ bats exploded over the next two days, beating Whittier 21-0 on Sunday and tying Occidental 13-13 on Monday.
La Verne’s record is 3-1-1.
The team finishes up its non-conference schedule with a pair of games against Centenary from Louisiana on Sunday and Wednesday. Both games start at 2:30 p.m. at Ben Hines Field.
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play opens for the Leopards at 2:30 p.m. March 4 when they host Redlands in the opener of a three-game weekend series.
Aidan Balderas can be reached at email@example.com.