LA VERNE, Calif. — After dropping its first SCIAC series of the season last week against Redlands, the University of La Verne baseball team got back on track with a sweep of Whittier on March 6-7.
La Verne improves to 11-5 overall and 10-2 in SCIAC play. Whittier falls to 2-14 and 1-8.
Game 1: La Verne 6, Whittier 5
The Poets scored four runs in the first three innings, but La Verne starter Javi Iniguez settled down and the offense came alive late as the Leopards claimed a 6-5 win at Whittier on Friday.
Ben White came with a clutch bases-loaded single up the middle to provide the go-ahead and the game-winning runs in the eighth inning.
Whittier threatened to extend the game or win it when its first two hitters got on via a hit by pitch and a walk in the bottom of the ninth. The Poets then sacrificed the runners into scoring positions with a bunt but only managed one run as La Verne reliever Nick Byrd induced two straight groundouts.
Byrd (3-0) went 2.1 innings to pick up his third win of the season.
Iniguez gave up four runs on six hits through his first 2.1 innings, but gave up only one more hit until he gave way to Diego Cortes in the seventh.
Ben Cerami was handed the loss as he gave up three runs on two hits and four walks in two innings.
Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, Jared Hovsepian sparked the rally with a double down the right field line that scored Nolan Henley and Tyler Watkins pulled the Leopards within a run with an RBI ground out later in the inning.
Andrew Douglas and Jakob Thomas walked to start the seventh and both advanced into scoring positions on a wild pitch. A batter later, Henley hit a weak grounder, but instead of going for the sure out at first the Poets went to the plate and Douglas just beat out the throw to tie the game at 4-4.
Game 2: La Verne 4, Whittier 2
Brett Early fired 8.1 innings of two-run ball and the Leopards scored three runs in the eighth inning to beat Whittier, 4-2, in the first game of a doubleheader at Ben Hines Field on Saturday.
Early got off to a shaky start, allowing two runs on three hits in the first inning, but was nails the rest of the way. He scattered 10 hits and no Whittier runner advanced past second base after the first inning. He finished with nine strikeouts without giving up a walk.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Mark Jebbia brought hope back into the game by hitting a triple and scoring in the next play on a single by Jakob Thomas. Nolan Henley then hit a double to left bring in Thomas for the go-ahead run and Whittier reliever Matthew Macey completely lost the command of the strike zone. Macey walked three straight La Verne batters, pushing across Henley, and the Leopards took a 4-2 lead.
Early came back on in the ninth and struck out the leadoff batter, but gave way to Byrd after allowing a single to Chris Sekiguchi. Byrd then promptly induced a 5-4-3 double play to notch his second save of the season.
Game 3: La Verne 12, Whittier 5.
La Verne used a 10-run fifth inning to complete the sweep of the Poets, 12-5.
The Leopards sent 14 batters to the plate and put together 10 hits in the fifth inning. Eight different Leopards notched a hit with Woody Reyes, Ben White and Nolan Henley each recording two base knocks.
Whittier responded with five runs in the final four innings, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Mark Jebbia (1-0) started on the mound for the first time this season and despite pitching only three innings, got the win as the most effective pitcher. He struck out two without giving up a run and went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Nolan Henley and Ben White each went 3-for-4 at the dish and combined to drive in five runs. Andrew Douglas and Zach Quinones each notched two hits each.