Late-inning heroics help baseball complete sweep

Leopards junior center fielder Jason Givens takes a pitch against the Chapman Panthers in game two of the Saturday doubleheader at Ben Hines Field. Givens finished with one hit and one walk in the Leopards’ 7-5 victory. / photo by Jonas Holt
Leopards junior center fielder Jason Givens takes a pitch against the Chapman Panthers in game two of the Saturday doubleheader at Ben Hines Field. Givens finished with one hit and one walk in the Leopards’ 7-5 victory. / photo by Jonas Holt

Jack Janes
Sports Editor

A grueling three-game series against the Chapman Panthers ended in a dramatic 7-5 win for the No. 10 Leopards in the second game of their doubleheader Saturday to complete a series sweep. According to the University of La Verne Athletics website that goes back to 2006, this is the first time in school history that the Leopards have swept the Panthers.

“We really were resilient today,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “This whole series was, as the cliché says, it was a grind and our guys just hung in there, kept clawing and scratching and we came out on top.”

Senior left-handed pitcher Chase Pedersen deals from the mound on Saturday in game two of a doubleheader against the Chapman Panthers at Ben Hines Field. Pedersen got the start and went four innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs. The Leopards won the game, 7-5, and completed the series sweep over the Panthers. / photo by Jonas Holt
Senior left-handed pitcher Chase Pedersen deals from the mound on Saturday in game two of a doubleheader against the Chapman Panthers at Ben Hines Field. Pedersen got the start and went four innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs. The Leopards won the game, 7-5, and completed the series sweep over the Panthers. / photo by Jonas Holt

The Leopards took game one of the series on Friday at Hart Park in an extra-innings thriller that had junior outfielder Logan Reese’s dramatic three-run home run with a full count and two outs in the top of the 11th inning giving the Leopards the win.

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Leopards’ offense was rolling, scoring three runs in the second inning after starting the inning with five straight hits and carrying the momentum into the bottom of the third inning, batting through the order with the first five batters reaching safely and scoring five runs to make it an 8-4 lead. 

Junior first baseman Noah Garcia hit a sacrifice fly to scratch another run across in the bottom of the fourth and scored another run in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-strike double down the left field line to make it 10-7, Leopards.

Junior right-handed pitcher Matthew DesMarets normally starts on the second game of doubleheaders, but today he was called on to shut the door with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. DesMarets got a strikeout to get out of the seventh-inning jam, then pitched a scoreless eighth inning and got the first two outs in the ninth to bring his total to two scoreless innings pitched with six strikeouts.

After DesMarets fell behind in the count to 2-0 after surrendering a four pitch walk, senior right-handed pitcher Austin Klopfenstein came in to close out the game and threw three fastballs right past Panthers junior outfielder Blake Beckley to get the strikeout and secure the 10-7 victory.

Senior left-handed pitcher Chase Pederson started the second game of the doubleheader for the Leopards and went four innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits, four strikeouts and one walk. Pederson got the first two batters out to start the game before giving up a two-out single to graduate student Kai Osaka and then a two-run home run to senior first baseman AJ Anzai to give the Panthers an early 2-0 lead. 

The Leopards responded in the bottom of the second inning when the Leopards had bases loaded with one out and graduate student infielder Anthony Salcedo reached on a fielder’s choice to score sophomore catcher Nathan Perry from third to cut the lead in half at 2-1 Panthers.

A wild pitch by freshman right-handed pitcher John Folkl with runners on second and third base gave Chapman a run back in the top of the fifth inning to make it 3-1. But Chapman coughed up three runs right back to the Leopards in the bottom of the fifth inning by walking four Leopards batters, committing an error and giving up an RBI single to sophomore shortstop Ryan Vosika. When the dust settled, the Leopards scored three runs in the inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Chapman tied it back up the next inning after a two-out walk to graduate student catcher Trent Turquand led to an RBI single by junior outfielder Brad Lang to make it a 4-4 ballgame. 

Senior first baseman Noah Garcia loads up to swing against the Chapman Panthers on Saturday in game two of a doubleheader at Ben Hines Field. Garcia finished with one hit in the game as the Leopards would go on to win 7-5 and complete the sweep over the Panthers
Senior first baseman Noah Garcia loads up to swing against the Chapman Panthers on Saturday in game two of a doubleheader at Ben Hines Field. Garcia finished with one hit in the game as the Leopards went on to win 7-5 and complete the sweep over the Panthers. / photo by Jonas Holt

Showing no signs of giving up, the Leopards once again had an answer for the Panthers in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Perry led off the inning with a triple in the right-center field gap and then scored on another Vosika RBI-single to give the Leopards a 5-4 lead. 

“I was just jumping on the fastball early in the count because I’ve been getting to two strikes lately,” Vosika said. “I’ve kind of been struggling and I just wanted to get on (base) early in the count.”

Then in the top of the eighth inning, DesMarets was once again called on to shut the door for the Leopards and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two Panthers batters. In the bottom half of the eighth inning, Chapman hit the first two batters of the inning and hit another to make it bases loaded with one out.

Coming off the bench with bases loaded and one out, sophomore infielder Aidan Salcedo came through for the Leopards with a two-strike double to score two runs to extend the lead to 7-4.

“Just going in there with a calm mindset, just trying to put my bat on the ball and then I got my pitch with two strikes, just tried to turn in on it and stay inside the ball,” Salcedo said.

In the top of the ninth inning, freshman infielder Matt Campopiano hit a lead-off home run, but DesMarets retired the next three batters he faced to close out the game and give the Leopards a 7-5 win to complete the series sweep. 

“My mentality was that I just want to win, just shut it down, it’s a good opponent and I just trusted my teammates,” DesMarets said.

Combining both games of the doubleheader, DesMarets threw four innings in relief, giving up one earned run on two hits while striking out eight and walking two. 

“We’re at that stage of the season where when you have a chance to get a win, you take a risk,” Winterburn said. “The impressive thing for me is that Des (DesMarets) hasn’t done that for us. He hasn’t come out of the pen and closed or really even been in late relief like that, so for him to navigate both games the way he did, I’m really proud of him.”

Then on Wednesday, the Leopards picked up a 16-6 win in a non-conference game at The Master’s University.

The No. 10 Leopards now look ahead to their three-game series against the Whittier Poets that begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Ben Hines Field with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at Whittier. 

The No. 10 Leopards are now 22-9-1 overall and 14-4 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. 

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

Junior first baseman Noah Garcia records an out at first on a throw from sophomore shortstop Ryan Vosika on Saturday in game two of the doubleheader against the Chapman Panthers at Ben Hines Field. The Leopards’ defense was stellar, making no errors in the game and winning, 7-5. / photo by Jonas Holt
Junior first baseman Noah Garcia records an out at first on a throw from sophomore shortstop Ryan Vosika on Saturday in game two of the doubleheader against the Chapman Panthers at Ben Hines Field. The Leopards’ defense was stellar, making no errors in the game and winning, 7-5. / photo by Jonas Holt

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.

Jonas Holt is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He is a staff writer and staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

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