Mike Terrones dove back to first on the attempt to pick him off made by Montclair State’s first basemen John Jediny. Terrones also had his part in a pick off in the fourth inning at second to tag out Danny Rodriguez. The Leopards beat the Red Hawks, 8-6, and then went on to face off against Keio University from Japan, which would end in a tie in the ninth, 1-1.
The University of La Verne men’s baseball team didn’t play proper host to teams traveling from afar this week. The team picked up impressive home wins against Kean University and Montclair State, both from the New Jersey Athletic Conference, while improving its record to 10-7.
While both opponents may have been caught off guard by the gloomy California weather, nothing would have been able to slow down the strong bats or the superb pitching of the Leopards during the contests that extended their win streak to a season high six games.
“Our guys are really starting to do the little things right at the plate and in the field. It took dumping a few games to magnify the mistakes we were making and take strides toward improving and becoming a better ball club,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “We’ve been playing the best available talent and that should pay off down the stretch. We are definitely still in the hunt for a SCIAC championship with our young squad.”
The Leopards’ recent emergence can largely be credited to the strong bats of Lucas Berry, Jon Marty, Mike Terrones, Brandon Mickelson, and Scott Marcus, who have combined for 21 hits in 36 at bats over the two games and have helped lead the Leopards to the 12-7 win over Kean and 8-6 defeat of Montclair State.
“Our bats have definitely come alive lately,” Marty said. “As a team, we have been hitting the ball really well and we are scoring enough runs to win ball games with the way our defense has been playing.”
The Leopards’ recent efforts can also be attributed to exceptional pitching from a steadily improving staff of throwers, currently sporting an impressive 3.68 team earned run average.
Heading the group is sophomore Ryan Rose, who improved his record to 3-0 with a strong outing against Montclair State on Sunday afternoon.
In Rose’s 6 2/3 innings of work, he struck out eight, while surrendering only eight hits and three earned runs.
“We have definitely picked up our game as a pitching staff,” said Rose.
“Dustin Bowers and Mark Simmons have been fantastic for us. The defense is making the necessary plays and our run support has been huge. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to continue this success throughout the season.”
Bowers’ performances on the hill have been equally impressive as of late.
Bowers picked up Rose’s save in an inning of work against Montclair State, after coming off a complete game win over Occidental two weeks ago.
Other noteworthy performances on the mound have come from steadily improving junior Matt Young, who picked up his first win of the year against Kean, as well as coming from Mark Simmons, Richard Johnson, Jimmy Wilfong and Craig Neu.
“It feels great to get my first win of the season and hopefully that will lead to more success for myself and the rest of team as the season progresses into tougher SCIAC play,” young said.
After a rough start with their very young squad, Leopards’ baseball appears to be back on track for good.
The Leopards squad is continuing to prepare for a full schedule of exciting SCIAC competition, following an upcoming five-game stint with formidable out of town competition from Montclair State, Wisconsin-La Crosse, Menlo and Eastern Connecticut State in two games.
A vengeful and determined Montclair State team will look to spoil the Leopards’ St. Patrick’s Day celebration today at 2 p.m. at Ben Hines Field.
Kevin Davies can be reached at email@example.com.