The third seeded Chapman baseball team saw its season come to a close May 7, when it dropped its second straight game in the double-elimination conference tournament with a loss to first seed Occidental College 5-2. The loss will leave the Panthers with a fourth place finish in the conference.
The Panthers (26-16, 20-8) entered the tournament with momentum after winning their last five games of the regular season, but they couldn’t find their usual offensive firepower, which led to the two losses on the weekend.
“This season we made a lot of progress and a lot of that had to do with the senior leadership up top,” said freshman infielder Andrew Mendonca. “With them gone, our identity as a team should hopefully stay similar. The fact of the matter is our offense was our best aspect this year. Defensively, we need work.”
Chapman got on the board first in the top of the first inning with an RBI single from sophomore infielder Jared Love and another from freshman infielder Konnor Zickefoose to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead heading into the second. Despite the early success at the plate, after the first inning, the Panthers would fail to score another run, as Occidental (31-9, 22-6) would end up outhitting Chapman 10-4.
The game was tied until the fifth inning, when Occidental capitalized off one of Chapman’s two errors, giving the Tigers two unearned runs, and putting the game out of reach for Chapman, who found itself unable to find any significant offense against junior pitcher Nolan Watson, who had a complete game, four hit performance.
“Defense will be our main focus all offseason,” Mendonca said. “We have eight starters returning, so look for the Panthers to take a big step next year. We were the number one offense in (conference) this year but don’t be surprised when we put up better numbers next year. We have all the confidence in the world that we will be back in the tournament next year and we will do better.”