ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University baseball team earned an confidence-boosting non-conference victory on Monday night, defeating visiting No. 9-ranked Kean University (N.J.) 3-1 at Hart Park. Chapman improved to 11-6 in their long-standing East-West rivalry with nationally-ranked Kean, avenging last year's 9-4 loss in Orange.
Chapman (10-8) also extended its season-best winning streak to five, including four straight victories at Hart Park.
The Panthers snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning as freshman C Matt Gandy came through on a full count, two outs, bases loaded base hit up the middle that plated freshman 3B Matt Molnar and junior 1B Mark Saatzer. The hit also knocked Kean starting RHP Kevin Herget (1-1) from the game after 6.2 innings and eight strikeouts.
Kean (7-3) had its first two batters in the eighth inning promptly reach base off of Chapman reliever Molnar (1-0) and junior RHP Taber Watson was summoned to get the final six outs. The Panthers' bullpen ace struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam and then struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth en route to his fifth save of the year. Watson has not allowed an earned run in 20.1 innings this season.
Chapman received an outstanding starting performance from freshman RHP Connor Williams, making his collegiate debut. The rookie was unfazed by the Cougars' national standing, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings before surrendering Kean's only run in the sixth. That included three perfect innings to start the game and he didn't allow a hit until the fourth. He finished with four strikeouts in 6.2 innings but was not around for the decision.
The Panthers jumped on top in the first inning when Molnar hit a one-out double off Herget and junior OF Connor Battaglia singled him in two batters later. Molnar was 3-for-5 with a pair of runs in the game. Sophomore SS Greg Dillon doubled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.
Chapman returns to conference play with a three-game series against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges beginning on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Hart Park.
by Doug Aiken
Sports Information Director