Baseball clinches playoff berth after splitting Saturday’s doubleheader

Senior pitcher Matt Smith pitches against the University of La Verne during a doubleheader April 23. Chapman lost the first game 11-7 and won the second 10-3. Photo by Allie Camp.

Senior pitcher Matt Smith pitches against the University of La Verne during a doubleheader April 23. Chapman lost the first game 11-7 and won the second 10-3. Photo by Allie Camp.

Chapman’s baseball team clinched a postseason berth after splitting the final two games of its series against La Verne University April 23. The Panthers fell 11-7 in the first game, but rallied to win the second 10-3.

“We have been fighting all season after a tough start and a few key injuries, so to battle back and to be where we are at this point in the season is awesome,” said Head Coach Scott Laverty.

Chapman (22-14, 16-8) got off to a quick start in the morning game and built up a 4-1 lead heading into the fourth inning. But La Verne (17-18, 10-4) drove in 10 runs in the next three innings. Chapman scored three runs of its own in the same innings, but it would not be enough. La Verne would end up with an 11-7 win, which temporarily kept its playoff hopes alive.

Sophomore utility player Gavin Blodgett provided the highlight of the first game for the Panthers with a three-run home run and senior catcher David Basen racked up three doubles on the game.

Sophomore Conner Larkin bats against the University of La Verne during a doubleheader April 23. Chapman lost the fist game 11-7 and won the second 10-3. Photo by Allie Camp.

Sophomore Conner Larkin bats against the University of La Verne during a doubleheader April 23. Chapman lost the fist game 11-7 and won the second 10-3. Photo by Allie Camp.

The second game started out slow with each team struggling to find runs, but the Panthers found a groove in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring seven runs. Four of the Panthers’ seven runs in the inning were unearned, as errors by La Verne allowed Chapman to break the game open and finish with a 10-3 win.

Senior pitcher Matt Smith tallied his fourth win of the season after five strong innings and freshman pitcher Matt Mogollon pitched 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings of his own.

Chapman brought out senior pitcher Connor Williams with two outs in the top of the ninth and he tallied the final out of the game. Senior infielder Christian Gazdar also recorded his first home run at Chapman as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

Chapman will play La Verne April 27 in the first game of a round-robin tournament that is based on seeding, but Chapman has already clinched a spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Association playoffs after moving into the third spot ahead of Redlands. Final seeding may change based on the results of the next three games for the Panthers.

“It was huge to come back in the second game, and their starting pitcher is great and he was throwing 90 mph, so to get him out early was great,” Laverty said. “Then to come back and finish it off to essentially clinch the third spot, which is where we want to be, was huge.”

   To read about the first game in the series, click here.

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