LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne baseball team dropped a pair of games against Occidental and Whittier to wrap up the regular season on Sunday at Ben Hines Field.
La Verne falls to 21-17 overall and 18-10 in SCIAC play. Although the La Verne is tied in the loss column with Occidental, the Leopards own the tiebreaker for the final SCIAC Postseason Tournament spot (head-to-head record, then record vs. other three teams in the tournament). La Verne and Occidental split the season series, but the Leopards went 4-6 against Cal Lutheran, Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands, the three teams who will finish ahead, while the Tigers went 2-7 with one game remaining against the Kingsmen.
The Leopards could not solve Occidental starter Scott Ericksen in the first game of the day and lost, 4-0.
Ericksen (5-1) pitched a complete game shutout while striking six in his first start of the season.
The Leopards did get runners on base, getting eight hits and three walks off Ericksen, but hit into four inning-ending double plays.
La Verne starter Javi Iniguez (6-3) gutted out a complete game of his own but took the loss. He fanned nine while giving up four runs on 11 hits.
The offense woke up in the second game of the day against Whittier but the Leopards gave up a couple of big innings and left 14 runners on base as in a 10-9 loss.
La Verne rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth but Whittier took advantage of mistakes by La Verne to plate the game winning run in the top of the 10th. Leadoff hitter Ben Cerami reached second on an error and after a sacrifice bunt, came home on a wild pitch to give the Poets a 10-9 lead.
La Verne missed a golden opportunity to take the lead and possibly break the game open in the bottom of the eighth. The Leopards started the inning with three consecutive singles to cut the deficit to 9-8 and loaded the bases when Mark Jebbia's sacrifice attempt rolled to no-man's land. But Whittier got a force out at the plate and Matt Caselli hit a screamer right at the second baseman, who quickly threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Douglas went 4-for-6 with four runs scored and Thomas finished 3-for-4 with four RBI. Tyler Watkins was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs.
The Leopards will wait and see who its first opponent will be in the double-elimination SCIAC tournament. First game is on Friday at a time to be determined.