On Saturday the Leopards split contests with the Redlands Bulldogs in a doubleheader at Ben Hines Field.
“Personally I think we could’ve played a little better,” said senior infielder Jon-Michael Hattabaugh. “I think Redlands is a good team but we should’ve been able to compete a little more. We should’ve won both of those games on Saturday. I think we didn’t do enough to win.”
The first home game of the season on Saturday started off well for the Leopards, after dropping Friday’s season opener with Redlands, 7-2.
In the fourth inning, the Bulldogs tied the game 2-2. But runs in the fifth and sixth innings put the Bulldogs ahead, 4-2.
Then Leopards’ junior shortstop Sergio Munoz’s single brought Hattabaugh home making the score 4-3.
Another single by Zack Canfield in the seventh inning allowed Dylan Leong to score, tying the game at 4-4.
The Leopards’ efforts paid off with a final score of 5-4 after a bases loaded walk.
The first victory of the season was naturally well received, but the team still aspires for more and has high expectations for the team that features young talent.
“I think the La Verne baseball team is notorious for going out on a slow start, but I think we will be the top competition in conference this year,” said starting pitcher Tim Jolly.
“We are only a couple of guys away from having a solid nine and I think we’re going to do well,” he added.
Strong cheering support came from the crowd, despite the cold weather conditions.
“It was good to see a lot of people out there and hopefully that continues along the season,” Hattabaugh said.
“I went out there and pitched with what I had,” Jolly said. “When I came out we were down, but I set up the team with an opportunity to come back.”
Hattabaugh went 2-for-3 during the game with one walk and catcher Mike Surina drove in two runs on a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Anthony Cerafice took the win for the Leopards in his two innings of relief work giving up no runs on one hit.
The level of optimism remains high, especially with the newer players on the squad who bring a lot of talent to the group and continue to mesh with the rest of the team’s dynamics as the season progresses.
The general strategy in mind is to keep taking things week by week to eventually reach the level of success that the Leopards expect out of this season.
“I think we’ll be in trouble if we start looking too far ahead,” Jolly said. “We need to work together and once we have those little things down, it will start to work out for us.”
In the rubber match, Redlands was able to drop La Verne 4-2. Pitcher Dane Delfs was handed the loss after going five innings and giving up three earned runs.
The Leopards season continues with a three-game series starting today when they travel to Whittier.Then the Poets will visit Ben Hines Field in a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. and the second game slated to start at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s early in the year so we still have time to work some things out and we will be able to turn around, starting this weekend with Whittier,” Hattabaugh said.
Jose Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.