The Chapman baseball team began the four-game Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference round robin – which precedes the conference playoffs beginning May 6 – starting with a 5-4 away victory over the University of La Verne (17-19, 10-15) April 27.
“Today’s game will be all about pitching and defense,” said Head Coach Scott Laverty prior to the game. “We need to make sure we focus on the routine plays and not compound mistakes.”
Laverty’s prescription rang true as Chapman found itself in an early pitching battle with neither team able to score a run until the sixth inning.
Freshman pitcher Tyler Peck started the game for the Panthers, pitching three near-perfect innings, allowing just one hit. Sophomore pitcher Kynan Barton came in for the fourth inning and sophomore pitcher Brad Steiner came in for the fifth, with both maintaining scoreless innings. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they were simultaneously unable to get their offense going, and the score remained knotted at 0-0 heading into the sixth.
Chapman got on the board first, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth with RBIs from freshman infielder Konnor Zickefoose, sophomore outfielder Conner Larkin and senior catcher David Basen.
La Verne responded with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, which gave it a 4-3 lead. Neither team got on the board in the seventh, but the Panthers were able to drive in two crucial runs in the eighth, which proved to be enough as La Verne was unable to add the tying run it needed in the eighth or the ninth.
“Our pitchers did a good job for the most part of keeping us in the game today and giving us a chance,” said sophomore second baseman Gavin Blodgett. “At this point, we’re hoping to ride momentum and a good string of games into the playoffs so that we can come in with the best seed possible.”
Chapman will continue the conference round robin with an away game against fifth-place Whittier College April 30. While the four playoff teams – Occidental College (28-7, 20-5), California Lutheran University (25-11, 19-6), Chapman (23-14, 17-8) and the University of Redlands (24-11, 16-8) – are already secured, the seeds are still subject to change.
With the win, the Panthers kept their hold on the third spot in the conference, but Redlands, who the Panthers have yet to play in the round robin, is just a half game behind and has yet to play its first game of the round robin.