The La Verne baseball team’s offense took control of the game in a 28-6 blow out win against Whittier in a non-conference match-up on Friday at Ben Hines Field.
Sophomore pitcher Nick Zolferino took the mound for the Leopards in his fifth game of the season.
“The offense definitely helped a lot today, but my slider and fastball were good today,” Zolferino said. “Toward the end of the game I finally found my changeup, which got me some key swings and misses.”
The Leopards’ offense took an early lead by scoring two runs in the first started with an RBI triple from junior outfielder Brandon Shiota, who followed by scoring on a passed ball.
“I feel really confident. Everything that I’ve been doing is paying off,” Shiota said. “I’ve been sticking to my plan since day one and hopefully the team can start swinging the bats like this consistently.”
The Leopards added on in the second inning, scoring two more runs with the bases loaded and two outs to take a 4-0 lead.
After Zolferino struck out two batters in the top of the third inning, the Poets answered back. A deep double to dead center by senior catcher Mike Hernandez drove in a run but Zolferino got out of it striking out the next batter he faced.
In the bottom of the third inning, the offense picked up right where it left off. Junior catcher Christian Killian hit an RBI single, making the score 6-1. The Leopards then got a sacrifice fly from sophomore second baseman Chase Siffert to put them up, 7-1.
In the top of the fourth, Zolferino settled in, getting a key double play to end the Poets’ threat, followed by a flyout to center.
The top of the fifth was even better for Zolferino with him getting the last three batters out after a single.
After a quiet inning offensively in the fourth, the Leopards exploded for 13 runs in the fifth inning to extend their lead to 20-1. Seven of those 13 runs scored were with two outs.
Two home runs were hit in the inning, the first one being a three run shot by junior first baseman Tanner Siffert.
“I was just trying to get the barrel head out on the ball, to catch it a little bit out in front,” Tanner Siffert said. “The coaches always talk about making adjustments during at-bats. I was able to go up there, make a couple of adjustments, and it paid off.”
Junior first baseman John Bike, batting for Tanner Siffert the next time through the order, followed with a grand slam to pile on the runs for the Leopards.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Poets managed a small explosion of their own to score five runs in response.
This did not matter as the Leopards went on to finish the game scoring eight more runs, with the final score 28-6.
“We had that one big inning that put the game away, but overall I’m very happy that I got a lot of guys a chance to play,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “This is baseball. The victory may be nice now, but we gotta get ready for the next one.”
The Leopards faced Pacific Lutheran the next day, splitting the doubleheader, losing 5-1 in the opener and winning the second game, 11-1. La Verne also dropped a non-conference game to Cal Lutheran on Tuesday, 5-4.
The team is 10-3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Leopards open a three-game series at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 2:30 p.m. Friday. They will then host a doubleheader against the Stags at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Aidan Balderas can be reached at email@example.com.