In a battle of conference leaders, a six-run eighth inning lifted the University of La Verne to an improbable 8-7 triumph over Cal Lutheran Friday at Ullman Field in Thousand Oaks to grab sole possession of first place in the SCIAC baseball standings.
La Verne spotted CLU a 6-0 advantage before mounting its comeback. Trailing 7-2 in the eighth, the Leos sent 11 men to the plate as they collected four hits while drawing two walks and having one batter hit by a pitch along with a CLU error to take an 8-7 lead en route to their 20th win of the season.
In the eighth, the Leopards received an RBI single from Kevin Knight followed by a run scoring double from Jacob Ludvik to narrow the gap to 7-4. Cody Hazel then singled to right field to bring Jared Hovsepian home to get within two runs at 7-5. Ludvik, who advanced to third on Hazel's single, scored on a CLU passed ball to inch closer at 7-6. Bryce Roenicke capped the scoring with a two-run double to right field to score both Michael Stewart and Hazel to put the Leos on top.
La Verne (20-10, 15-4 SCIAC) would hold the Kingsmen scoreless over the final two innings as Ross Hebert overcame two hits and a Leopard error to strand a pair of CLU runners in the eighth. Hebert recorded the first out of the ninth and gave way to Anthony Cerafice, who retired both batters he faced on a strikeout and a pop out to earn the save.
After both teams went scoreless over the first three innings, the Kingsmen erupted for six runs in the bottom of the fourth. After Dominick Solley was hit by a pitch, CLU posted three consecutive hits by Trevor Koons, Nick Boggan and Nick DeLorenzo. Boggan would score from third on a wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.
After Allen Heide relieved starter Phil Schick, Mike Vineyard layed down an RBI bunt single before reliever Alan Heide hit both Garrett Smith and Iggy Wagner, who earned an RBI as Nicho DellaValle scored. Following a second Leopard pitching change in the frame, Solley connected for an RBI single to right to give the Kingsmen a 6-0 cushion.
La Verne responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI double from Stewart to plate Jason Moralez. Roenicke followed with a run scoring single to drive in Stewart to close the deficit to 6-2.
CLU (19-9, 14-5) tacked on a run in the sixth. Wagner was hit by a pitchand advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Koons collected an RBI single, scoring Wagner for a 7-2 advantage prior to the Leopard uprising in the eighth.
Matt Ashby earned the win for the Leopards as he pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out three.
Both Roenicke (3-for-4) and Ludvik (3-for-5) tallied three hits for the Leopards, with Roenicke collecting 3 RBI on the day. Solley, Koons and Boggans each had two hits for the Kingsmen.
The two teams will conclude the series Saturday at Mt. SAC with a doubleheader beginning at 11:00 a.m.