La Verne’s two-game losing streak ended as they pulled out a 5-4 win against Occidental Saturday in one of the last games on Ben Hines Field.
“We struggled a little bit at times, but in the end we did what we had to do,” senior first baseman Mark Larini said.
Senior designated hitter Jason Munoz used two Oxy errors to score the first run of the game.
It was not until the fourth that Oxy countered with a run by sophomore shortstop Logan Allen.
In the fourth, Munoz scored his second run of the game.
In the fifth, Occidental tied the game after an error by left fielder Cody Hazel.
La Verne answered in the fifth as Larini walked to leadoff and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior center fielder Jacob Ludvik before freshman third baseman Brian Tuttle doubled in Larini.
“Offensively we haven’t done a good job of having quality at bats, but we had some today when it mattered,” head coach Scott Winterburn said.
Oxy found hope with a big sixth inning when Aldape set the stage with a homerun to left field.
Pitcher Nathan Rollon came in to relieve senior Matt Baudino. Baudino pitched five innings with eight strike outs and gave up two earned runs.
“I felt like I was in command of my pitches, everything was working,” Baudino said. “I made some good pitches when I needed to.”
Occidental saw its first lead of the game when third baseman Riley Smith doubled in catcher Dale Garrett, 4-3.
In junior pitcher Alan Heide came in to relieve Rollon. Heide shut down Oxy, not allowing a hit or run.
Senior pinch runner Aaron Coopman tied the game on a beautifully executed play. Once on base, Coopman stole second and then advanced to third on a bunt from Larini. Tuttle grounded into double play, scoring Coopman.
In the eighth, junior pitcher Sean Fasig relieved Heide and the next three batters crumbled. Fasig struck out the first two batters and the third popped up for the last out.
“The key to today’s game was Heide and Fasig coming out and stopping them,” Winterburn said. “Oxy is a good team, but they stopped their offense and gave us a chance to score.”
The Leopards’ plan for the game was to concentrate on hitting Occidental’s off speed pitches. In the ninth, La Verne’s strategy paid off when Larini scored off a single to left from Ludvik, and scored the game winning run, 5-4.
“It was awesome scoring the last run; I felt like I should have hit the ball harder to get on base, but it ended up giving Jake the chance to win it,” Larini said.
Ludvik led La Verne offensively with a batting average of .373, 50 hits, two homeruns, 25 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and 37 runs scored.
It is a bittersweet feeling as La Verne faces Caltech at 3 p.m. today in the last home game the Leopards will play on Ben Hines Field.
“It’s more symbolic than anything else, it symbolizes eras,” Winterburn said. “A lot of great memories and special moments were had here. I’ll probably cry.”
Also, Larini prepares for his final start as pitcher for the Leopards.
“It’s huge. It’s the last game probably ever on this field and my last game ever too,” Larini said. “So I hope to come out with a win in the end.”
Krista Franceschini can be reached at email@example.com.