Despite a promising start to the season and a handful of conference wins – including an eight-game winning streak – the baseball team was swept by fourth-place California Lutheran University last weekend, falling from first to fifth place in the conference.
The Panthers committed nine errors in the three-game series, compared to Cal Lutheran’s one error.
“We handed them each of the games, which makes it frustrating,” said Gavin Blodgett, junior second baseman. “We came up just short in each game and and made mistakes all around the field.”
In the first game, which Chapman lost 8-7, the Panthers (7-4, 15-9) were in the lead 5-0 by the end of the third inning during the first game on Friday. But the Kingsmen (9-5, 18-6) hit their stride in the fourth inning and went toe-to-toe with the Panthers, who failed to maintain their lead and eventually lost the game 8-7.
“We let them back in the game due to several walks and not being sharp in the field,” said sophomore pitcher Tyler Peck, who started the first game and pitched three and one-third innings. “They grabbed that momentum in the first game and carried it through into games two and three.”
The following morning at Hart Park on Saturday, the Panthers were shut out 3-0 and lost the final game 4-3.
The first game on Saturday was scoreless until the sixth inning, when Cal Lutheran senior catcher Trey Saito scored a career-first home run, which was the only hit sophomore pitcher Joey Harmon allowed in eight innings.
The Panthers face off against the California Institute of Technology on Friday, April 7 in their next conference series at Hart Park. Caltech is currently at the bottom of the board and has a 1-14 record in the conference.
“Caltech won their first conference game of the year, so we know they will come out fired up,” Peck said. “We have to start strong and get ahead early. Hold them off with throwing strikes on the mound and solid defense in the field.”
With conference games remaining against first-place Occidental College and third-place University of La Verne, the Panthers still stand a chance to make the playoffs if they can win those pivotal series.
“This weekend put us in a tough spot because I think we’re sitting in fifth, but we’re confident we can take care of any team in the (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference),” Blodgett said. “There’s a lot of baseball left to be played so we’re trying to get back into the top four.”