ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University baseball team beat the visiting California Institute of Technology Beavers 3-1 earlier this afternoon after celebrating the successful careers of six Panther seniors. One of those seniors, Jonathan Hernandez, pitched a nine-strikeout stunner to go 5-0 on the season.
Hernandez was dealing on the mound, going hitless through five innings. He allowed just one hit in seven innings pitched when Beaver freshman Max Popken doubled through the right side. Caltech went on to score an unearned run in the seventh, keeping Hernandez's sheet clean with nine strikeouts, four walks, one hit and no earned runs in his final appearance of the regular season.
Chapman struck early to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Alex Tsuruda hit a leadoff single through the left side, followed by a stolen base to put himself in scoring position. A wild pitch allowed him to advance to third with freshman Drew Littwin up to bat. Littwin drew a walk to bring junior Kevin Gregersen up to the plate. Gregersen hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Tsuruda and give the Panthers the early lead.
Gregersen extended Chapman's lead in the bottom of the sixth with his second RBI of the game. Littwin singled to lead off the inning, followed by a heads-up play to steal second before the defense could realize what was happening. Senior Tristan Kevitch flied out to deep center field, allowing Littwin to tag up and advance to third. With one out and a runner on third, Gregersen grounded out to the shortstop, knocking in Littwin and giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
The Beavers put up their sole run of the game in the top of the seventh, when a throw to second from junior catcher Joe Jimenez bounced off the runners foot, kicking all the way out to left center field. Caltech Freshman William Cook rounded third on the error and beat the throw home to bring the Beavers' deficit to just one run.
The Panthers answered with an insurance run in the bottom half of the same inning. Sophomore Henry Zeisler hit a leadoff double, bringing freshman Brad Shimabuku up to the plate. The rookie laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Zeisler to third base with senior Jarod Penniman up next. The captain hit a sacrifice fly to center field, driving in the third and final run of the game.
Sophomore Cody Turner entered for Hernandez in the eighth, pitching a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout to bring the Panthers back up to the plate. Popken entered to pitch, tossing his own 1-2-3 inning to send the game to the final inning. Sophomore Nick Garcia relieved in the ninth, allowing a leadoff single, but forced a lineout and two strikeouts to end the game and earn his seventh save of the season.
The Panthers finish out the regular season with a doubleheader at Caltech tomorrow, May 4 at 11 a.m. before competing in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament May 10-12.
by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant