Bounce-back win in doubleheader split keeps Panthers' playoff hopes alive

Connor Battaglia (Photo by Larry Newman)
Connor Battaglia (Photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif.- After suffering its worst loss of the season, a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of the Whittier Poets, the Chapman University baseball team earned a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Redlands on Saturday at Hart Park. The doubleheader split moves the Panthers' conference record to 14-12 as they remain in the playoff hunt with two games remaining in the regular season.

Game 1: Whittier College 10, Chapman University 0 (7 innings)

The last time the Panthers and Poets met at Hart Park, Chapman's Justin Hanks tossed his first career shutout in a 9-0 win on April 19. A doubleheader sweep by Whittier the following day gave them all the confidence they needed as they got to Hanks early and often in game one of the Panthers' SCIAC pool-play doubleheader on Saturday. The Panthers' third straight loss to the Poets also marked the first time this season they have suffered a loss by the mercy rule.

A pair of first inning infield singles set the table for third baseman Julian Barzilli, who drove in the first of his two RBI on the day with a sharply hit single to right field. Shortstop Josh Genzuk pushed the advantage to 2-0 with a two-out single, but the rally was cut short when center fielder Connor Battaglia threw out Barilli at home.

Hanks' troubles continued in the third inning as a wild pitch plated the Poets' third run, followed by RBI base hits from Barzilli and Genzuk that pushed the Poets' lead to 5-0. Things continued to unravel for the junior right hander in the fifth as he committed a costly error on a routine comebacker with the bases loaded, throwing the ball over the head of first baseman Mark Saatzer. The error marked the end of the day for Hanks as freshman Andrew Felikian took the mound with the tough task of curbing the Poets' offense.

Felikian was unable to match the efforts of Whittier starter Curtis Martin, who threw seven shutout innings, allowing eight hits while striking out one batter to earn his second win of the season.

Leading 8-0, the Poets manufactured two more runs in the seventh inning to activate the 10-run mercy rule, secured by Martin in the bottom half as he held off the Panthers for the abbreviated complete game win.

Box score:

Game 2: Chapman University 5, University of Redlands 3

Needing a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, the Panthers received a superb performance from Braden Riddle, who shut down the Bulldogs in the second game. The freshman delivered one of his strongest outings of the season, throwing 8.1 innings, allowing three unearned runs on four hits while walking four and striking out six.

The Panthers snapped their scoreless inning streak at 12 in the opening frame, taking advantage of a Bulldogs error that allowed left fielder Greg Dillon to plate the game's first run. The lead moved to 2-0 in the second inning when Dillon connected for an RBI-single that scored senior Tyler Surnbrock.

With a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning, the Panthers added an important insurance run as Saatzer lined a base hit up the middle scoring Eddie Aguayo.

Meanwhile, Riddle  worked his way through the Redlands lineup with ease. He retired the first seven batters he faced in order and held the Bulldogs hitless through 5.2 innings. Unfortunately, the freshman right hander learned the hard way that strong defense is essential to keeping a no-hitter intact. A fielding error by shortstop John Wiehe extended the sixth inning as the Bulldogs eventually plated a run on a two-out single by Alex Scheiwe. With the no-hitter out of reach, Chapman made another costly error as Dillon dropped a fly ball in shallow left field, allowing Scheiwe and Jason Hennin to score and tie the game at 3-3.

Redlands reliever Ross Orman returned the favor in the bottom half of the inning, however, as he inherited three runners from starter John Keane and promptly threw away a pickoff attempt to third base. Two runs scored on the error, giving the Panthers a 5-3 lead.

Riddle would pitch into the ninth inning, but loaded the bases with one out, forcing Dave Edwards to call on closer Taber Watson, who shut the door on the Bulldogs for his seventh save of the season.

Box score:

The Panthers will continue SCIAC pool-play tomorrow with an 11 a.m. game at Cal Lutheran before wrapping up the regular season at Caltech on Tuesday.

by Ryan Cavinder
Sports Information Assistant

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