In the first of three games this weekend, the Chapman baseball team (4-6, 2-2) fell to the second-place California Lutheran University (3-3, 1-0) 5-2.
“Stringing together hits was the most difficult part of the game,” said sophomore second baseman Gavin Blodgett. “The box score won’t show it, but we had a lot of hard hit balls right at guys that just didn’t fall today. They had a two-strike, two-run single that really was the difference in the game.”
Chapman followed a two-run fourth inning from Cal Lutheran with freshman infielder Jarod Penniman forcing home a run on a fielder’s choice. In the bottom half of the fifth inning, however, Cal Lutheran junior outfielder Gabriel Gunter responded with a two-run single, giving the Kingsmen a three-run lead.
Blodgett batted 2-for-4 on the day, as did sophomore outfielder Conner Larkin. Blodgett also drove in a run in the top half of the eighth inning, but it was followed by a run in the bottom half of the inning from Cal Lutheran.
The Panthers’ pitching was able to strike out seven Cal Lutheran players, though starting pitcher Matt Smith had some trouble with command. He walked three batters and threw a wild pitch in the fifth inning, allowing runners to move to second and third base, which helped Cal Lutheran get an extra run on the following play.
Blodgett said the team’s offensive struggles made Cal Lutheran’s lead much harder to overcome.
“I think we played our game well and stayed with them once they got the lead,” Blodgett said. “Once again, the game really came down to one pitch which was the two-run single. It changed the game and put them in a good spot. Ultimately, we just didn’t put enough runs on the board.”
Blodgett said some improvement over the weekend is necessary for the Panthers.
“I think if we stay the course and do everything a little better than today, we’ll be fine,” he said. “We have two dudes on the mound tomorrow who can shut down just about any offense, so as long as they set the tone early and the offense gets hot, early and often, then we’ll be successful.”
The baseball team will play Cal Lutheran again on Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.