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Poets run out of ink against Leopards

After an unsuccessful attempt to steal second base, La Verne senior utility player Jason Muñoz safely returns to first base despite the best attempts of Whittier first baseman Austin Strauss. The Leopards overtook the Poets in a 5-0 victory on a cold, rainy day at Ben Hines Field. La Verne takes the field again against Pomona-Pitzer at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Alumni Baseball Field. / photo by Warren Bessant

Krista Franceschini
Staff Writer

Senior pitcher Mark Larini did now allow a rainy afternoon to affect his performance as he pitched an outstanding two-hit complete game shutout against Whittier last Friday at Ben Hines Field.

His exceptional performance was highlighted with 11 strike outs while walking only three.

“The rain affected in our favor,” senior shortstop Sergio Muñoz said. “We practice in it all the time so we’re used to it. If we could, we’d play in it all the time.”

In the bottom of the second the Leopards took advantage of an error by Poets senior third baseman Dan Gleiberman with freshman leftfielder Brian Tuttle scoring an unearned run off the bat of sophomore catcher Jason Moralez.

Larini did not allow a base runner in the second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings in his dominant performance against Whittier.

“It felt pretty good; it was great for my confidence and the team’s as well,” Larini said. “I just went out there and tried to keep it close, I let my defense make some plays, which they did, and we came out with a big win.”

With two outs in the sixth, Sergio Muñoz walked, stole second, and advanced to third on a passed ball, finally scoring on an error by a Whittier centerfielder.

“The highest point was the second run of the game, once we got it we kept it rolling and stayed tough,” Larini said.

That is exactly what the Leopards did. La Verne broke the game open in the seventh inning scoring three runs by junior second baseman Zach Canfield, senior designated hitter Jason Muñoz and junior third baseman Ross Hebert.

Canfield opened the inning with a double to right center, followed by an infield single by junior center fielder Jacob Ludvik.

Canfield scored on a single to center by Jason Muñoz, but Ludvik was thrown out at second on the play.

“We stacked runs in the seventh, there were no good at bats strung together before, but after that, the inning was ours,” senior right fielder Donovan Petta said. “We shut them down.”

Jason Muñoz stole second and advanced to third on an error by the Poets catcher.

Hebert then walked and advanced to second on a passed ball.

Muñoz scored on a sacrifice fly by Petta and to close out the inning, Hebert scored on an error by the Poets catcher.

Whittier never mounted a comeback for the remainder of the game, giving La Verne the 5-0 win.

“Today’s game was huge. We came off a big win last weekend, and stuck in there and got the win today,” Larini said.

The Leopards outhit the Poets 6-2 including two extra base hits, but the difference in the game, besides the excellent pitching by Larini, was the six errors by Whittier.

La Verne stranded seven base runners to Whittier’s four.

Ludvik and Canfield were the hitting stars for La Verne with two hits apiece. Jason Muñoz and Sergio Muñoz both had a stolen base in the game.

On Sunday, the two teams faced off again at Whittier’s Memorial Field but La Verne continued its domination over the Poets, sweeping the double header and the series with 12-5 and 10-1 wins, proving they can play in rain or shine.

After the weekend sweep over Whittier, the Leopards record is 7-6 overall and 4-2 in conference.

“For the rest of the season, we just have to take one game at a time,” Petta said. “We have a tight conference.”

The Leopards look to continue their winning streak against Pomona-Pitzer with the first pitch being thrown at 2:30 p.m. today at Alumni Baseball Field on the campus of Pomona College.

Krista Franceschini can be reached at krista.franceschini@laverne.edu.

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