The La Verne baseball team completed a series sweep of the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen in a doubleheader on Saturday, winning game one, 7-1, and game two, 7-3, at Ben Hines Field.
“We felt like we were going to play better these last couple of weekends and we did,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “I’m happy with our progress so far.”
The opener of the series was played at George “Sparky” Anderson Field in Thousand Oaks on April 13, when the Leopards won, 5-4.
Winterburn turned to his ace, graduate student pitcher Gerald Terry, to start game one of the doubleheader. Terry came in with a 7-2 record and a 1.69 ERA.
Senior left fielder Luke Garcia led off the bottom of the third inning with an infield single off Cal Lutheran sophomore pitcher Luke Wechsler and crossed home plate when sophomore first baseman Noah Garcia singled through the right side, giving the Leopards an early 1-0 lead.
Terry cruised on the mound, taking a no hitter into the top of the sixth inning. Cal Lutheran sophomore shortstop Josh Quinn finally broke up the no hitter with a single up the middle.
“We’ve been working on a lot of things,” Terry said. “If we continue to build off this series, I think we’re going to be a really tough team to beat.”
La Verne’s bats exploded in the bottom of the sixth inning when senior second baseman Chase Siffert and Noah Garcia began a rally with back-to-back singles off Wechsler. Both runners advanced when senior center fielder Cameron Slessor laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Siffert scored when sophomore right fielder Logan Reese singled up the middle.
Now with two outs in the inning, sophomore designated hitter Malachi Francois singled to right field, scoring Noah Garcia. The Leopards led, 3-0.
Cal Lutheran sophomore Dean Olsson relieved Wechsler on the mound and walked the first batter he faced, junior catcher Manuel Munoz, who loaded the bases for freshman shortstop Ryan Vosika.
Vosika hit a single to Quinn at shortstop, who bobbled the ball. Reese scored on the hit while Francois scored on the error. The score at the end of the inning was 5-0 Leopards.
The Leopards added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Noah Garcia scored his second run of the game when Reese hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
“We are still trying to achieve the goal of getting better every single day,” Noah Garcia said. “There is still a lot of season left.”
The Kingsmen got on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth inning when senior first baseman Joseph Scalzo, who reached first via hit by pitch, scored when Quinn hit an RBI sacrifice fly to center field.
Francois padded the Leopards’ lead even more in the bottom of the eighth inning when he hit a solo home run over the left field fence.
“If we continue to do the little things right, we’ll have the type of season we want to have.” Francois said.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Terry walked senior right fielder Sean Blandino and was relived by junior pitcher Ian Wong.
Wong closed out the game for La Verne, striking out the last batter.
Terry lowered his ERA to 1.61 and got his Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference leading eighth win.
La Verne is now 21-10 overall and 14-1 in SCIAC. The Leopards, who have won 10 games in a row, are in first place in SCIAC, staying just ahead of the Chapman Panthers, who are on an 11-game winning streak of their own.
One of those remarkable streaks will end as the two teams open a three-game series at 3 p.m. Friday at Ben Hines Field. They will follow with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Chapman.
Sydney Ferris can be reached at email@example.com.