Leopards come from behind and walk-off Tigers

Jack Janes
Sports Editor

Sophomore shortstop Ryan Vosika’s walk-off single capped a ninth-inning, 7-6, come-from-behind victory for the No. 14 Leopards to complete the sweep against the Occidental Tigers on Saturday at Ben Hines Field.

“Baseball is a game that you have to play all 27 innings in a series, you have to play all nine innings in a game,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “You don’t know how the game is going to unfold. You have to play all nine innings and you have to play the game appropriately, and that’s what we’re learning to do as a team and as a coaching staff.”

Junior right-handed pitcher Matthew DesMaret started on the bump for the Leopards and tossed five innings, giving up two runs on four hits, four walks and six strikeouts. That is now back-to-back solid starts from DesMaret to bounce back after his outing against Redlands on March 3 did not go his way.

“(It was) just a mental adjustment of competing every pitch and not backing down, trusting myself and just being competitive in the zone and trusting all of my pitches and my ability,” DesMaret said.

A walk and a pair of singles surrendered by DesMaret brought in the game’s first run in the top of the first inning, but DesMaret settled in after and pitched two scoreless innings. With runners on first and third in the top of the fourth inning, senior infielder Sancho Llamas reached on a fielder’s choice as the Leopards defense was unable to turn the double play and it allowed senior first baseman Garrett Palme to score from third base to make it 2-0.

The Leopards responded in the bottom half of the inning when senior outfielder Matthew Diaz hit a double in the left-center gap to score junior outfielder Logan Reese from first base.

The Leopards tacked on another pair of runs in the sixth inning when Vosika walked with the bases loaded to score junior outfielder Nolan Anguiano then graduate student infielder Anthony Salcedo hit a sacrifice fly to score freshman infielder and outfielder Christian Takahashi to take a 3-2 lead.

Then in the bottom of the seventh inning, Reese got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Anguiano and Diaz both flew out to right field. With two outs and a runner on first, junior catcher Matt Rice got a pinch-hit single and junior first baseman Noah Garcia followed with a single to left-center field to score Reese to extend the lead to 4-2.

Things got hairy for the Leopards in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore right-hander Cole Monsen came in to pitch and did his job by getting Occidental hitters to hit ground balls, but the Leopards defense made a plethora of mistakes. Three errors by the Leopards gave the Tigers a run and set up junior outfielder Jeffery Cambra to hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to take a 6-4 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, losing by two runs, the Leopards swiftly came back with back-to-back walks to start the inning by Diaz and Rice. Freshman outfielder Jake Ledford pinch ran for Rice, and Garcia then tallied his third hit of the game, scoring Diaz and allowing Ledford to advance to third base and Garcia went to second base after the throw to third.

With runners on second and third base and nobody out, Vosika lined a slider up the middle to score both Ledford and Garcia to win the game in walk-off fashion, 7-6. Out of the eight hits the Leopards had on the day, Garcia and Vosika each had three.

“I fouled the first one off. I was a little jumpy, then I tried to cool off a little bit and I took a ball and then I saw a slider and I saw it really well so I put a good swing on it,” Vosika said.

This come from behind victory clinched the series sweep against the Tigers and they then lost 11-9 in a two-day match-up with Tufts that was postponed because of lightning on Monday and resumed Tuesday to bring their record to 10-4-1 overall and 5-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

“I think it stems from last year, the game is not over until it’s over and we have a lot of those same guys and we’ve had some close games before but being able to grind it out and win it was huge,” Garcia said. “We need to keep doing the right stuff and follow the coaches’ plan and we’ll be alright.”

The Leopards will square off against Caltech with a 3 p.m. game Friday at Ben Hines Field then a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday at Caltech. Over spring break, the Leopards face Pacific University in a three-game series at 3 p.m. March 29 and a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 30, all at Ben Hines Field.

Jack Janes can be reached at jack.janes@laverne.edu.

Jack Janes, a senior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine. He is also a staff photographer for both publications. He previously served as a Campus Times staff writer.


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