LEOPARDS TOP POETS TO SECURE SCIAC TITLE
The University of La Verne baseball team captured outright claim to the 2012 SCIAC Championship with a 3-0 shutout win over Whittier Friday at Mazmanian Field in Walnut.
Starting pitcher Phil Schick outdueled Whittier ace Ryan Schwenn for the Leopards with a stellar outing, pitching 7.1 shutout innings while recording five strikeouts, six hits and stranding seven on base.
The Leos (25-13, 20-7 SCIAC) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Albert Ramos led off with a single through the right side and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mason Stoltenberg. He then made it to third when George Hanna singled through the left side. With one out on the board, Zach Canfield hit a sac fly to score Ramos.
La Verne struck again in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Ludvik singled up the middle, and then scored on two Poet throwing errors on the same play, for the 2-0 Leopard advantage.
The final run for the Leos came in the sixth inning when Cody Hazel smacked a solo homer off Schwenn over the right field wall for a three-run cushion. The blast was Hazel's fifth homer of the season.
With one out in the eighth, Schick gave way to Ross Hebert, who took the mound in relief in and retired two batters in preserving the 3-0 lead.
Anthony Cerafice picked up his fourth save of the season after retiring all three batters faced to close out the contest. Cerafice fanned Poet pinch-hitter Cody Martinez for the final out to set off a wild victory celebration.
As the SCIAC Champion, La Verne gets the automatic berth to the NCAA West Regionals with the date and site to be determined.
La Verne wins its 20th SCIAC baseball title in school history and the fourth under Winterburn, who also led the Leopards to conference crowns in 2004, 2005, and 2008.
Whittier, which had won eight straight games heading into Friday's contest, falls to 21-16 overall and 15-12 in league play.
Prior to the game, the Leopard program recognized the 10-member senior class of Ludvik, Cerafice, Hebert, Canfield, Ramos, Bryce Roenicke, Nathan Rollon, Sean Fasig, Alan Heide and Roger Tyre during Senior Day festivities.
The Leos will conclude the regular season Saturday as they take on the Cal Lutheran at 1:00 pm in Thousand Oaks.