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Leopards claw their way into first

Junior catcher Jason Moralez scores on a sacrifice fly by freshman outfielder David Finneran to win the first game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in extra innings Saturday. The victory gave the Leopards the momentum they needed to overwhelm CMS by an 11-3 margin in the second game of the double header, and put the Leopards in first place in SCIAC. / photo by Mitchell Aleman

Daniel Hargis
Staf Writer

When junior Jason Moralez and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps catcher Sam Katz met at home plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, Moralez was called out.

However, Moralez made sure to score the second time around in the bottom of the 10th inning, sending him and the Leopard baseball team into a frenzy on the field having beat the Stags 5-4 in the first game of the doubleheader Saturday.

The Leopards won the second game handily, 11-3, and the first game of the series, 4-2, Friday.

“If you look at all three games this weekend, so many guys contributed to the wins,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “I think they saw that it takes a team to get wins, not just one or two guys.”

The Stags and Leopards opened the doubleheader with a game that featured at least one run scored in each of the first five innings.

CMS boasted a 2-0 lead after the first inning with the help of two walks and two RBI singles.

For the next two innings the Leopards attempted to close the gap, but after each the Stags tacked on a run to keep their two-run deficit.

In the fifth inning senior left fielder Cody Hazel belted a solo home run over the right center field wall to knot the game at 4-4.

The next two and a half innings were fast ones that included one and a half where only three batters stepped into the box.

La Verne had its best chance to take the lead in the eighth but finally sealed the deal in the 10th. Moralez was hit by a pitch to take first, then stole second, advanced to third on a sac bunt, and scored the winner on a sac fly.

“We knew we snuck out of there (with the win),” Moralez said.

Moralez leads the Leopards in RBIs with 27.

The Leopards rotated four different pitchers in the 10 inning win.

Senior Nathan Rollon got the start.

Rollon, who leads the Leopards in wins with four, was relived after four innings by senior Roger Tyre.

Tyre only pitched one inning then was replaced by junior J.C. Barcelo.

Barcelo pitched three strong innings then ultimately was replaced by senior Ross Hebert who pitched two innings and received the win.

Hebert recorded his second win of the season.

The second game of the day was a much easier win for the Leopards, who boast a 12-3 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to hold the top spot in the conference. The Leopards also hold a 17-9 overall record.

Senior pitcher Anthony Cerafice and La Verne took the energy from the end of the first game and brought it to the start of the second, breaking the game open after three innings with an 8-1 lead.

“We made it a priority to get going in the second (game),” Moralez said.

Cerafice almost went the distance, recording five strikeouts and one walk along with three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings.

“I think Anthony Cerafice had a great start doing the things he does,” Winterburn said.

“I was there to challenge the hitters and got the results I wanted grinding it out,” Cerafice said. “I couldn’t do it without the defense.”

Cerafice recorded his third win of the season.

Hazel crushed another solo home run, his team-leading fourth, in the second inning that gave the Leopards a 6-0 lead.

“I was seeing the ball well today,” Hazel said.

La Verne also won the last five innings 4-2, stifling the Stag offense with three more innings that only featured three batters.

The Leopards finished the game with 15 hits over the Stags’ nine and did not commit an error throughout the second game.

Sophomore Kevin Knight took over the mound in the eighth inning and finished with one strikeout, one walk and one hit to seal the win, the sweep and sole possession of first place in the SCIAC.

“We put pressure on the strike zone, got hits, and they opened the door and we walked through,” Winterburn said. “Our concentration showed in all phases of the game.”

“When everyone comes together like that it’s nice to have wins like that,” Moralez said.

The Leopards play at 7:30 p.m. today at Mt. SAC in the opener of a weekend series with eighth place Whittier College.

The series will finish with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Whittier.

Daniel Hargis can be reached at daniel.hargis@laverne.edu.

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