ORANGE, Calif. – Another late deficit was erased in the final innings as the Chapman University baseball team came back for a 6-5 win over visiting Occidental to open a three-game SCIAC series. The Panthers scored five of their six runs over the seventh and eighth innings to get yet another comeback win.
It seems to have been the story all year: a late deficit turns into late inning heroics. Freshman Brad Shimabuku, who already has a walkoff hit this season, drove in the tying run in the eighth. With fellow freshman Miguel Cebedo on the move on the base paths. Shimabuku's landed a deep fly ball into the right center gap. Cebedo beat the throw home to tie the game at 4-4.
With two outs and runners on first and second, the Occidental third baseman bounced a throw past the first baseman, allowing Shimabuku to come around to score the go-ahead run. A few plays later, he mishandled a grounder with the bases loaded as junior Kevin Gregersen came around to score an insurance run.
Sophomore closer Nick Garcia took over on the mound in the ninth to get his third save of the season. A sharply hit single and a bloop double that landed just inside the chalk in right field brought a run across the plate but Garcia retired the next batter on a grounder to third and struck out the final batter to strand the tying run at second base.
Junior Joe Jimenez went 3-for-3 at the plate and was a triple short of the cycle. He produced the Panthers only run of the first six innings with a solo blast over the scoreboard in left field to lead off the fifth. He doubled in the seventh to spark a two-run rally that made it 4-3.
Occidental made the most of its opportunities early on, using just one single to manufacture a run in the first. In the fourth, the Tigers again needed just one single to plate two runs. A few free passes, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly combine with Bryan Smith's single for two runs and a 3-0 lead.
Nolan McCarthy was in control over the first six innings of the ballgame for Occidental. He scattered four hits and picked off a pair of runners in the first six inning while surrendering just the home run to Jimenez. However, the Panthers tagged him for five hits, including a pair of doubles, in the final two frames for five runs (three earned) as he took his first loss of the season.
Senior Jonathan Hernandez limited the Tigers to just three hits but allowed three runs over six innings. Sophomore Cody Turner earned the win in relief, allowing a run on two hits over a pair of innings pitched. Hernandez, Turner and Garcia combined to strike out nine batters.
The series shifts to Occidental tomorrow for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. The Panthers return home on April 6 to take on Whittier in a SCIAC doubleheader.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director