LA VERNE, Calif. — A day after being held to just one hit, the University of La Verne baseball team exploded for 14 runs on 16 hits to beat No. 6 Kean 14-6 at Ben Hines Field on Thursday afternoon.
What it means: The Leopards improve to 14-7 on the season while the Cougars slip to 9-4.
Players of the game: Ben White went 3-for-5 including a solo home run to deep left center in the third inning and had two RBI.
Tyler Watkins also recorded three hits and was a homer shy of the cycle. He finished 3-for-6 with two runs scored.
Nick Byrd (4-0) took the mound with two outs in the fifth inning and La Verne clinging to a 7-6 lead and fired four shutout innings to collect the win.
How it happened: The bats got going early and never stopped. The Leopards took advantage of a fielding error in the first inning and scored three runs with two outs to grab a 3-0 lead.
La Verne then extended the lead to 5-1 in the third after White's blast and an RBI triple by Aaron Orona. But Kean got three runs back in the top of the fourth with one swing of the bat by Matt Meleo, who lined one over the fence in right.
It was over when: The teams then traded a pair of runs in their respective half-innings until the Leopards broke it open with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Mark Jebbia was struck in his front leg by a pitch with the bases loaded, which pushed in Woody Reyes. Jakob Thomas then singled up the middle to plate two more and Jebbia came all the way around from first as Meleo failed to field the ball cleanly to give the Leopards an 11-6 lead.
Byrd took it from there and La Verne added three more runs in the sixth and seventh to seal the win.
From first baseman Ben White:
On the biggest difference was from Game 1: "The team had a long talk last night about being competitive and the attitude at the plate. You can't be timid and you can't wait for the perfect pitch because those guys weren't going to throw it down the middle. We were more competitive at the plate today and we weren't waiting for them to come to us."
On beating a top-ranked team after taking the series against Pomona-Pitzer: "I don't think anyone on this team expects anything less. We're not super excited just because we beat them. We're excited to win a ballgame but it's nothing new. We think we're that good, too, and we think we should beat those teams."
Up next: The Leopards get the weekend off and will return to action next week when they host Pacific (Ore.) for four games on March 27-29. The series opener is on Friday at 3 p.m.