Baseball splits doubleheader with Redlands on opening weekend

Gavin Blodgett bunts.
Gavin Blodgett (photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University baseball team split a doubleheader with Redlands (5-2, 2-1 SCIAC) in its SCIAC home opener this afternoon, taking the first game 5-4 and falling 4-3 in the second. The Panthers (4-2, 1-2 SCIAC) rallied from down two in the bottom of the ninth to earn the walk off victory in the first game.

Game 1 – W, 5-4

After a back-and-forth game, Chapman pulled out the victory after a no-out rally in the bottom of the ninth. After two consecutive walks, senior Gavin Blodgett stepped up to the plate with the Panthers down 4-3. An error by Bulldog third baseman senior Brendan Gardiner allowed Blodgett to advance from first to second, sophomore Aaron Wong to advance to third, and junior Alex Tsuruda to score from second base.

With the game tied up at four, senior Justin Stream hit a dribbler to Redlands senior second baseman Will Hall, who was unable to handle it. Tsuruda easily came home as Chapman celebrated its walk-off victory.

Junior Jarod Penniman went 2-for-3 while fellow junior Trevor Willits went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Stream also tallied two RBIs on 1-for-5 hitting in game one. Junior pitcher Mason Collins was lights-out for the Panthers in the second half of the game, allowing just three hits and no runs while striking out three.

Game 2 – L, 3-4

Redlands went up 3-0 early in the first inning. Junior pitcher Christian Cosby walked the first two runners and advanced them to third and second on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch allowed Hall to score and Gardiner to advance to third with no outs. Bulldog senior Rainier Aguilar hit a single to left center, scoring Gardiner and putting Redlands up 2-0 with no outs. Two more wild pitches put Aguilar on third. Junior Brendan Moore hit a sac fly to center field and Aguilar tagged up, putting the Bulldogs up 3-0 with one out. A groundout and a fly out to left field ended the top of the first.

Cosby allowed a fourth run in the top of the third on another wild pitch as Redlands went up 4-0, but the Panthers rallied back in the bottom of the third to score one. After Wong singled up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Blodgett stepped up to the plate and singled to right field, scoring Wong and cutting the Bulldogs' lead to three.

The next five innings were a pitchers' duel, as junior Jonathan Hernandez came in and pitched two consecutive three up, three down innings and neither pitcher allowed a single run. A 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Hernandez took the Panthers to the bottom of the eighth at the top of the lineup. After Wong popped out, Blodgett singled up the middle to start the one-out rally. Blodgett was then able to advance to second on a wild pitch. Senior Conner Larkin hit a triple over the left fielder's head, tallying his 14th career triple and scoring Blodgett to make the score 4-2.

Stream hit a ground ball to the short stop, who threw to first, but Redlands' first baseman Moore couldn't handle throw, allowing Larkin to score from third. Tsuruda came in to pitch run for Stream, but was thrown out trying to reach third on junior Andrew Mendonca's single up the middle. Junior Tristan Kevitch took the plate, but flied out to center field, ending the inning.

A double and a sac bunt put a runner in scoring position for the Panthers in the bottom of the ninth, but Penniman was left stranded as freshman Henry Zeisler and Wong both flied out for the second and third outs.

Blodgett went 3-for-4 with one hit and an RBI. In three innings pitched, Hernandez struck out four while allowing just one hit and no runs.

Chapman takes a break from SCIAC play as it hosts Castleton on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Hart Park.

by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant

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