Baseball rides clutch hits to sweep Caltech

Baseball rides clutch hits to sweep Caltech

LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne baseball team completed a sweep of Caltech as it won both games of a doubleheader on Saturday at Campus West.

Game 1: La Verne 9, Caltech 5

Brent Backlund struck out six in 7.1 innings, the middle of the batting order came thorough and the Leopards beat Caltech, 9-5, in the first game of the day.

Backlund, who was brilliant in his La Verne debut against Pacific Lutheran on Feb. 14, was shaky coming out of the gate today but bounced back nicely before exiting in the eighth. He gave up three runs on 10 hits and gave up just one walk.

The Beavers scratched two consecutive singles to start the game and the got on the board first with a groundout RBI. La Verne answered right back in the bottom of the first when Jakob Thomas doubled home Woody Reyes, who had reached on a walk to lead off the inning.

La Verne tacked on five runs in the bottom of the third to put some daylight between the teams. Anthony Gonzalez singled to lead off the inning, Thomas followed with a walk and the Leopards came up with four straight hits to grab a 5-1 lead. Ligot then scored on a double steal attempt to give the Leopards a 6-1 lead.

La Verne stretched the lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the seventh on a pair of hits by Christopher Peres and Daniel McDonnell but Caltech rallied for four run in the top of the eighth to make things interesting. The Beavers scratched two straight singles to chase Backlund and David Watson laced a single to left center to knock in two runs. Ligot then dropped what looked to be an easy out in right and the Beavers scored two more runs to get within 8-5.

The Leopards responded with another run in the bottom of the eighth and Nick Byrd took the ball in the top ninth and preserved the win for La Verne.

Thomas, Christopher Peres and Daniel McDonnell—La Verne's 3-4-5 hitters—combined to hit 5-for-11, drove in five runs and scored four.

Watson paced Caltech's offense with three hits and two RBI.

Game 2: La Verne 14, Caltech 3 (7 inn.)

The Leopards struck early an often to beat the Beavers, 14-3, in the nightcap.

Woody Reyes went 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs at the top of the order and four other Leopards knocked in at least two runs each. Nicholas Michaels went 2-for-3, reached bases in all four plate appearances and came around to score each time.

Daniel McDonnell knocked in two with a two-out single up the middle to get the Leopards a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and La Verne never let up.

The Beavers tied it right back up in the top of the second but the Leopards scored 10 runs in the next three innings to run away. Five straight batters got on base to start the third and the Leopards cashed all of them in and strung together four two-out hits in the fourth to get out to a 12-3 lead.

Christopher Peres tripled in two runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the Leopards an 11-run lead and Nick Byrd pitched a clean ninth for a run-rule win.

Anthony Braun (1-0) picked up for starter Alex Bernstein in the fourth inning and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the first win of his college career.

From head coach Scott Winterburn

On what he is most pleased about: "I'm most pleased about our clutch hitting so far. McDonnell's had some clutch at-bats, Ligot had some clutch hits. McDonnell was the star of the series for me. He stayed in at-bats, drove in some really big runs and really set the tone for us."

On Brent Backlund: "I thought Brent was a little tired today. He went eight innings on Sunday. But he was a wily veteran today. They decided they were going to attack his fastball and took that part of his game away. But he shifted his gears and went to his cutter and was able to navigate his way deep into the ballgame. He showed his veteran qualities today."