In Sunday’s road game at Memorial Field against Whittier, the baseball team showed why it is still the team to beat in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
A dominant starting pitching performance by junior Phil Schick and an overwhelming offensive attack led to the Leopards 8-2 victory to complete the weekend sweep of the Poets.
The sixth inning proved to be momentous for La Verne. With a 3-1 lead, junior second baseman Nicholas Bergara hit a two RBI double extending the Leopard lead, 5-1.
“I went up there looking to hit a pitch as hard as I could, and I did,” Bergara said.
Later in the inning, sophomore designated hitter Pedro Espinoza knocked in an RBI single, giving the Leopards a commanding 6-1 lead.
Bergara went 2-for-5 with two RBI’s and Espinoza went 3-for-4 one RBI in the win.
In the bottom of the sixth the Poets had the bases loaded with no outs. Junior starting pitcher Phil Schick struck out two straight batters and forced a ground out to get out of the inning.
“I was going to challenge the hitters,” Schick said. “If they put it in play, I was just going to trust the defense behind me.”
Schick pitched 7.2 innings giving up only two earned runs on five hits leading to his fourth win on the season.
“I was just competing with what I had,” Schick said.
Sophomore Javi Iniguez and freshman Brett Early combined for 2.3 innings of relief work for the Leopards.
The only two Poet runs came off a solo home run from sophomore designated hitter Ben Cerami and an RBI single by freshman first baseman Max Bradshaw.
La Verne tallied one in run in the seventh and eighth innings in route to the 8-2 victory.
The Leopards staring pitching was key in sweeping the Poets.
During Saturday’s doubleheader at Mt. San Antonio College, La Verne received back-to-back complete games from sophomore Sean Beckman and junior Kevin Knight.
Beckman and Knight have a combined record of11-2. Knight leads La Verne with a 0.95 ERA, and Beckman is right up there with a 1.99 ERA.
The Leopards won game one 10-1, before taking game two 1-0.
“Our starting pitching was outstanding,” head coach Scott Winterburn said. “Our offense came alive in this series as well.”
The Leopards offense combined for 18 hits on the game.
Junior shortstop George Hanna and senior catcher Jason Moralez each went 3-for-5 with one RBI a piece.
“It was a total team win today,” Winterburn said.
With the win, La Verne improves to 18-9 overall and 12-6 in SCIAC play. With the sweep, the Leopards have won three in row, including six of their last eight.
As the season comes down to its final stretch, the Leopards will be tested. Four of their last seven games are on the road including two against first place Cal Lutheran. The Leopards trail the Kingsmen by three games in the SCIAC standings.
La Verne looks to extend its three game win streak as they take on Occidental at 7 p.m. Friday at Mt. SAC.
Julian Mininsohn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.