The rain started in the fourth inning and did not let up last Friday at Ben Hines Field, cutting La Verne’s home conference opener short and handing them a 2-1 loss to Redlands.
The Leopards then split a doubleheader in Redlands on Saturday, losing the first game 3-2 and winning the second 8-4.
The home game was a pitcher’s duel from the start as Redlands’ pitcher Derek Johnson and La Verne senior pitcher Mark Larini were almost perfect in the first two innings.
“Their pitcher was dominating our hitters,” senior outfielder Donovan Petta said. “But we had seen enough of his pitches, that if it wasn’t for the rain, we could have gotten to him in the later innings.”
Redlands scored both of their runs in the second inning off of only one hit.
Johnson threw four-and-two-thirds innings of perfect baseball until senior first baseman Aaron Coopman reached first base on a single to left field, but the Leopards were not able to capitalize and left him on base.
“He was throwing inside to all the other hitters, so I was looking for a fastball in the inner half of the plate,” Coopman said. “I wanted something hard inside.”
La Verne’s lone run came in the bottom of the sixth when sophomore catcher Jason Moralez singled to left and scored on a fielder’s choice.
In game one of the double-header La Verne struck first scoring two runs in the fifth inning. Petta came up with the bases loaded and singled to center field, scoring seniors Sergio Munoz and Jason Munoz.
The Leopards could not hold off the Bulldogs, as they came back in the bottom of the seventh scoring three runs off of senior pitcher Matt Baudino.
In game two La Verne scored three runs in the first inning. Petta came up to bat with Jason Munoz on second and junior infielder Ross Herbert on first and hit a three-run home run.
The Leopards would add two runs in the third, one in the sixth and one in the seventh and eighth innings. The Bulldogs would score their runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings.
Despite showing offensive power in the second game, La Verne also had two errors, which game them a grand total of seven for the weekend.
“Defense will win games,” Coopman said. “We need to improve on that if we want to win conference. It’s something we’re going to need to focus on in the coming weeks.”
“We need to have a better mental approach to the game,” Jason Munoz said. “We’re good enough to win conference, but sometimes we lack the mentality.”
Last season La Verne came up one game short of making it to the postseason tournament and the seniors are looking to change that this season.
“Our expectation is to win conference every year,” Jason Munoz said. “I’m looking forward to winning and being the champs.”
“We have a very deep roster,” Petta said. “We have the most heart in the conference; our team chemistry is unlike any we’ve ever had before.”
La Verne will continue with its determination to win SCIAC at 2:30 p.m. today against Whittier at Ben Hines Field.
“All the seniors want to go out with a win,” Coopman said. “We just want to leave with no regrets.”
Elsie Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.