The baseball team continued its success in conference play last weekend, beating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps two out of three games.
The Leopards trailed Claremont-M-S late in the game Friday until a two-run home run in the seventh inning by junior first baseman Victor Peinado which gave the Leopards a 5-4 lead and helped secure the victory.
“He got me the first time but I told myself I wasn’t going to miss the next time,” Peinado said. “The hit gave us a lot of confidence.”
The Leopards got on the board in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by junior third baseman Jon-Michael Hattabaugh.
They added another run in the second inning when junior outfielder Donovan Petta scored on infielder Mark Larini’s single.
Starting pitcher Jesse Sweet nearly got tagged with a loss when he ran into trouble in the third inning.
After giving up singles to Alex Bonnett and David Spiller, the Leopards’ defense fell apart, giving up four runs and the lead on errors in addition to two more RBI singles by Andrew Bloomberg and Ryan Kaup.
Sweet then retired 13 consecutive batters not allowing another baserunner until the eighth inning.
Sweet pitched eight innings with four strikeouts and just one walk.
“I knew I had to bear down and throw less pitches,” Sweet said. “I just wanted to keep the team in the ballgame; I know we can score runs.”
It was Sweet’s first game back after missing a start with a strained middle finger.
Grant Wheatley closed out the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.
The come from behind win was another great accomplishment for the Leopards in their turnaround season.
They began the season losing their first six Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games but since then they have gone on a tear winning 11 while only dropping one.
“It was a great ballgame. The guys showed tremendous character staying in this one,” head coach Scott Winterburn said.
They finished up the weekend series on Saturday splitting the doubleheader.
The Leopards lost the second game, 11-8, but took the final game, 15-9.
La Verne finds itself in fourth place, six games behind first place Pomona-Pitzer. Cal Lutheran is in second place and Redlands is in third.
The Leopards improved their overall record to 22-14 and find their conference record at 11-7.
Peinado continued his hot hitting inside of the conference raising his average to .427 with six home runs and 33 RBIs.
However, the Leopards’ chances to get a bid into the NCAA Division III regional tournament are grim.
“Obviously our goal is to make the playoffs but we’re going to keep taking it one game at a time,” Winterburn said. “The only thing we can control is trying to win ballgames.”
The Leopards will play at 3 p.m. on Friday against conference leader Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont for their final regular season series. On Saturday, the Leopards will host the Sagehens for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.
Christopher Guzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.