The Leopards powered their way past the Whittier Poets on Friday, 14-5, to go along with a terrific pitching performance by senior Jesse Sweet, as they completed a three game sweep over the poets on Saturday extending their winning streak to 11 games.
Sweet went the distance for the Leopards, pitching a complete game and holding the Poets to just five runs on nine hits, striking out five and giving up just one walk.
It was Sweet’s second complete game of the season.
“We knew they had some strong hitters but we wanted to go at them,” Sweet said. “The offense was a big help, it made it a lot easier.”
The Poets got on the board in the first inning when Reed Tuttle tripled and scored on an error by center fielder Aaron Coopman. That turned out to be their only lead of the game.
The Leopards would come roaring back in the bottom half of the inning with a three run home run to right field by catcher Mike Surina. They added to their lead in the second with an RBI double by Jon-Michael Hattabaugh. Sergio Munoz and Victor Pinado both added RBI singles.
The Poets would add two more runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Anthony Cappaletti but that was as close as they would get. The Leopards added to their lead with a two-run home run by Mike Moretti in a four-run eighth inning.
On Saturday, the Leopards topped the Poets in the first game of the doubleheader, 13-11, in extra innings.
Senior pitcher Grant Wheatley came into the game late and got the win for the Leopards, throwing three innings and giving up three runs.
In the final game of the series the Leopards claimed the sweep, coming out victorious, 10-3.
This time Wheatley got the start for La Verne and went five innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits.
Moretti went 3-for-4 on the day with three RBIs and sophomore infielder Sergio Munoz contributed a hit, walk and two RBIs.
The wins were the first for the Leopards (13-10,3-6) against a conference opponent this season, moving them up two spots in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
“We’re trying to make it back to the playoffs,” said head coach Scott Winterburn. “We’re doing a better job at focusing from inning to inning.”
The streak helped lift the confidence of the entire team but they have not lost focus on the task at hand.
Hattabaugh, who finished 3-for-4 with a home run, knows the team still has a long way to go.
“We just got to take it one day at a time and do what we got to do” Hattabaugh said. “Streak or no streak.”
The Leopards open a three-game set on the road Friday at winless Caltech.
Christopher Guzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.