The Chapman baseball team split this weekend’s doubleheader against California Lutheran University with a 12-2 win and an 11-1 loss.
“(The two games) were actually mirror images of each other, for each team,” said Head Coach Scott Laverty. “We came out early, scored the seven runs in the first, jumped on them early, controlled the momentum, finally started pushing across runs in the middle of the game, and then closed it out in the eighth. They did the same thing in the second game. They were able to get four in the first, three in the second, and it makes it tough for a team to battle back. Each team played one game well, and one game not so well.”
The Panthers (5-7, 3-3) had 15 hits on 37 at-bats, compared to the Kingsmen’s seven hits from 25 at-bats in the first game. The Kingsmen (4-4, 2-1) were largely limited offensively by the pitching performance of senior pitcher Matt Molnar. Molnar pitched the full eight innings that were played, letting up just one earned run, and allowing the Panthers to end the game an inning early via the conference’s 10-run mercy rule after seven innings.
Senior first baseman Jared Love closed the game out with a two-run walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning, as he put the Panthers up by 10 runs.
“It had already been a long game and we only needed two more runs to get the mercy rule,” Love said. “I hung a slider, barreled it out and it felt good.”
The second game didn’t fare well for the Panthers. It was Cal Lutheran who scored early on and found itself with a 7-1 lead at the end of two innings. The Panthers’ offense was stifled, only managing six hits compared to Cal Lutheran’s 18.
Despite the loss, both the players and coaches are confident that there will be more wins in the future.
“We’ve been playing OK. I like the things that we’re doing,” Laverty said. “We have a lot of freshmen that are playing, getting good time. We need to continue to make adjustments, on the mound, offensively, defensively.”
Laverty said that despite inconsistencies and injury problems, the length of the baseball season should work to the Panthers’ advantage.
“I really, really believe that we’ll be there (at the conference playoffs). We’ve had some struggles with some injuries. We lost Tyler Cook this weekend, he couldn’t play. A senior third baseman, hitting over 400, those are tough things to overcome sometimes,” he said. “We’ve had a little rash of some bumps and bruises, and just need to get everybody healthy.”
Love said that he was aware there was room for improvement, but that the team has not lost any confidence.
“We’re going to put in a lot of hard work at practice,” Love said. “This was kind of a fluke game today. There were a lot of tricklers up the middle. We’re better than that.”
The baseball team plays Webster University at home in a doubleheader on March 5 at noon and 3 p.m.