The Leopards’ baseball team completed a series sweep against the Occidental Tigers Tuesday at Ben Hines Field with a 9-5 win in game three of the series.
The series began Monday night when the Leopards opened up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play by beating the Tigers, 6-5, at Anderson Stadium in Los Angeles. The Leopards welcomed the Tigers to Ben Hines Field on Tuesday, where in game one, La Verne also won, 9-5.
“This series was the first time this year we focused more on offense,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “We focused on the little things it takes to win games like laying off pitches and putting down bunts.”
Game three of the series began in the Tigers’ favor. La Verne freshman pitcher Cole Monsen walked freshman second baseman Lou Martineau to begin the game. Monsen attempted to pick off Martineau at first base but threw the ball away. Martineau advanced to third on the error and scored when sophomore right fielder Jeffrey Cambra hit an RBI single to center field. Monsen then walked senior shortstop Nolan Upchurch and was relieved by sophomore pitcher Ethan Galindo.
Galindo got the next three batters out in order.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Leopards regained momentum.
Occidental junior pitcher Patrick Connoly walked junior shortstop Anthony Salcedo, who then stole second. Senior left fielder Luke Garcia hit an RBI single to center, tying the game 1-1. Garcia then advanced to third base on a wild pitch and passed ball. The Leopards soon took the lead as Connoly’s struggles continued, walking three batters in a row. Sophomore right fielder Logan Reese walked in Garcia for his first RBI of the day.
The Leopards now led the game, 3-1
The bottom of the fourth inning began with a single from freshman catcher Nathan Perry. After stealing second, he advanced to third on a ground out by Salcedo. Garcia singled to left field for his second hit and RBI of the day, bringing in Perry. Freshman pitcher Matthew Uytioco relieved Connoly after he walked sophomore center fielder Benny Vogel. Sophomore first baseman Noah Garcia singled, making the bases loaded. Senior third baseman Cameron Slessor singled to left field, scoring Luke Garcia and Vogel.
“We did a good job of sticking with it,” said Slessor. “We got off to a slow start, but we were able to put on some runs.”
By the end of the fifth inning, the Leopards were leading, 9-1. Uytioco walked senior second baseman Chase Siffert, hit Perry with a pitch and walked Salcedo. Freshman pitcher Riley Holcomb took over and hit Vogel with a pitch, allowing Siffert to walk home. Noah Garcia then walked, bringing in Perry. Reese singled up the middle, scoring Vogel and Salcedo.
“We really stuck to our approach, and we were more on our pitches,” said Luke Garcia. “The rest really just took care of itself.”
The Tigers threatened a comeback in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore pitcher Austin Klopfenstein relieved Galindo after Martineau hit an inside-the-park home run and Cambra hit a single.
Klopfenstein gave up two walks, one hit and one run before being relieved by junior pitcher Chase Pederson. Pederson walked one batter before sophomore pitcher Vicente Molina took over and was able to limit the damage to four runs, getting the next three batters out.
Molina completed the win for the Leopards, coming back out in the top of the ninth inning and getting three consecutive outs.
In relief, Galindo pitched 7.1 innings, gave up four hits, two earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts.
“We stayed detailed and had a great work ethic,” said Galindo. “I felt pretty good on the mound, I appreciate all my guys for backing me up.”
The Leopards now look toward March. They will kick off the month by traveling to Redlands to begin a three game series on Friday. The two teams return to Ben Hines Field on Saturday for a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.
Sydney Ferris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.