ORANGE, Calif. – One crucial swing of the bat proved to be the difference as the Chapman University baseball team saw its late lead disappear in a 10-7 loss to the visiting Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Knights. The visitors made the most of four hits to slug their way to the win.
For the second game in a row, the Panthers had a planned staff day to get much of the staff at least one inning of work. The Scarlet Knights weren't able to get much going with their bats but took full advantage of nine free passes and three Panther errors. Russ Halkias' eighth inning grand slam proved to be the difference in the game and turned a one-run Panther lead into a three-run lead for the Scarlet Knights.
In the third, Rutgers-Newark grabbed a 3-1 lead without the benefit of a hit. Matt Smith came out of the bullpen to start the third inning but hit the first batter he faced. After striking out the next batter, three more walks, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly plated three runs.
The Panthers had gone out in front in the second when Jared Love singled with one out and later scored from second on Jarod Penniman's single to right center. Penniman ended up 3-for-4 on the day with a pair of RBIs. Konnor Zickefoose had his second three-hit game in a row and had a sacrifice fly for a 3-for-3 day at the plate with two doubles and a run scored. His average leaped to .484 on the year.
In the fourth, Zickefoose led off with a double off the wall in right and scored easily on Penniman's second RBI-single of the day. Rutgers-Newark responded in the sixth. After an error put a runner on first with one out, Justin Marks smacked Rutgers-Newark's first hit of the day – a double down the right field line. A groundout scored the run on the next play to make it 4-2.
Two errors on either side of Zickefoose's second double off the wall of the afternoon plated a run and a double steal attempt tied the game 4-4 in the bottom half of the sixth. Another error in the bottom of the seventh cashed in Anthony DeNiro, who had led the frame off with a single, and gave the Panthers the lead again at 5-4.
Walks proved to be fatal again for the Panther pitching staff as Matt Mogollon walked the three of the first four batters he faced before Halkias cleared the wall in left center for the fatal grand slam. Rutgers-Newark added two more insurance runs in the ninth to make it 10-5.
The Panthers made it interesting in the ninth as DeNiro and Gavin Blodgett were each hit by a pitch with one out in the inning and Andrew Mendonca followed with a bunt single. Alex Tsuruda drew a bases loaded walk to bring Zickefoose to the plate as the tying run. The Scarlet Knights brought in center fielder Ryan MacFarlane to close the door on the rally. After allowing Zickefoose to hit a sacrifice fly, he induced a game-ending pop up for his first save.
The Panthers first four pitchers: Josh Norwood, Smith, Tyler Peck and Dominic Bastone did not allow a hit. Ben Vietze pitched the seventh and one out in the eighth, striking out three of the four batters he faced before giving way to Mogollon.
The Panthers remain home to take on Ithaca in a single game on Thursday at 5 p.m.
by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director