Skidding Panthers drop a pair to Redlands

Connor Battaglia (photo by Larry Newman)
Connor Battaglia (photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University baseball team will be happy to turn the page on the calendar this week. The Panthers dropped a pair of games to the University of Redlands on Saturday 16-11 and 5-0 as the Bulldogs swept the three-game weekend series and added to Chapman's now six-game losing skid. The losses drop the Panthers into seventh place in the SCIAC, one and a half games back of Occidental (9-6) and La Verne (9-6) for the fourth SCIAC tournament spot entering the final month of the season.

After a five-game winning streak at the beginning of the month, Chapman (11-15 overall, 9-9 SCIAC) has now lost seven of its last eight. And the Panthers couldn't get any breaks on Saturday, turning in their best offensive performance of the season (11 runs, 17 hits) in their first loss and limiting third-place Redlands (15-10 overall, 11-7 SCIAC) to just four hits, but were stymied offensively in the second loss.

Game 1: Redlands 16, Chapman 11

As big of an offensive game as the Panthers put together, Redlands' attack was better, tagging Chapman pitchers for 20 hits – six for extra bases, including two homers – and 16 runs (all earned). Senior 1B Eliot Smith hit a three-run homer to right as part of a six-run sixth inning that put the game out of reach at 15-2. Smith finished the game 3-for-5 with five RBI, matching sophomore OF/P Nathaniel Acosta who also drove in five runs including a bases loaded double in the first inning.

Trailing by 13, Chapman came back to make a game of it, plating three of their own in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Bulldogs error that kept the inning alive. The Panthers then struck for five runs in the eighth, including a two-run single by sophomore SS Greg Dillon and a double from junior OF Connor Battaglia that brought in three runs (one from another Redlands error), making it 15-11. But that was as close as Chapman would get.

Battaglia and junior 1B Mark Saatzer each collected three hits with Battaglia driving in a season-high four runs.


Game 2: Redlands 5, Chapman 0

The second game was the complete opposite as Chapman was shutout on just five hits, yet managed to out-hit Redlands 5-4 in the game. Freshman RHP John Keane (3-2) held the Panthers to just five singles and didn't walk a single batter, allowing Chapman's only threat in the fifth inning after back-to-back singles by Battaglia and freshman C Matt Gandy to lead off the inning. A caught stealing and two flyouts later began a streak of 10 in a row retired by Keane who only allowed one hit over his final 4.2 innings.

Chapman's freshman RHP Matt Smith was equal to the task with the exception of two rocky innings. In fact, the rookie retired the Redlands lineup 1-2-3 in six of his eight innings, faltering only in the second and fifth innings where he surrendered five runs on four hits, three walks, a wild pitch and an error. As a result, the unforgiving baseball gods pinned Smith – who struck out six – with his fourth loss of the year.

Chapman hopes a change of scenery will be the right dose of medication as it travels to Hardin Simmons (Texas) next weekend for the three-game series beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. (CDT).


by Doug Aiken
Sports Information Director

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