ORANGE, Calif. – A doubleheader split with the La Verne clinched a spot in the SCIAC Tournament for the Chapman University baseball team. The Panthers fell 11-7 in the early game before ending Senior Day with a 10-3 win to clinch a postseason spot. Chapman is tied for third in the standings and will be seeded third in the SCIAC round robin coming up next week.
Game 1 – L, 7-11
The Leopards slugged their way to an 11-7 win in the early game behind three strong middle innings. The Panthers jumped out to an early 4-1 lead but couldn't hold on in a back and forth battle.
Matt Molnar allowed just the early run through the first four innings, fighting his way out of trouble in the second and fourth, but La Verne matched Chapman's four-spot in the fifth. A leadoff single was followed by an error and two free passes to make it 4-2. Jaryd Reuss's double tied the game and a sacrifice fly gave La Verne a 5-4 lead.
Senior David Basen hit his first of three doubles on the day to lead off the bottom of the fifth and later scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. However, the Leopards continued to pile on the runs. They put three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to jump way out in front.
Chapman scored twice more in the sixth on Basen's single and a sacrifice fly from Andrew Mendonca but the last 10 went down in order as La Verne tied the series and kept its slim postseason hopes alive.
Game 2 – W, 10-3
The Panthers went down early for the second game in a row but exploded for seven runs in the fourth to key the crucial 10-3 win and take the series. Matt Smith earned his fourth win of the season with five strong innings. He struck out five while allowing three runs.
Down 1-0, the Panthers took advantage of three consecutive errors in the third to plate two runs and take the lead. La Verne answered to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth.
La Verne made another crucial error that should have ended the inning with a tie ballgame. Instead, the Panthers took full advantage and plated seven runs – five of which were unearned. Basen delivered a two-RBI double and Trevor Willits later stroked a two-run single up the middle. After Dillon scored on a wild pitch, Jared Love took his turn smashing a two-run double to left for a 9-2 Chapman lead.
La Verne used four pitchers in the inning and five in the game with Javi Iniguez throwing four solid innings of relief in the final four frames. Matt Mogollon was equally as effective for Chapman, allowing only one hit and striking out four over three and two-thirds innings. He gave way to senior Connor Williams, who retired the only batter he faced for the final out.
Senior Christian Gazdar was a late pinch hitter and needed to see just one pitch in the eighth inning, which he deposited over the left field wall for his first career home run.
Chapman and La Verne will meet again on Wednesday for the first of a four-game round robin based on seeding. The Panthers will play again on the road on Saturday before returning home Sunday for a doubleheader. Regardless of the results, Chapman has already clinched a spot in the SCIAC Tournament but its seeding is still to be determined.
by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director