The University of Redlands baseball team traveled to Chapman University on Saturday for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader against the Panthers. The first game included back-and-forth scoring, with the Bulldogs falling short in the ninth inning for a 4-5 loss. Quickly bouncing back in the rubber match, Redlands earned an early 4-0 lead but saw that advantage diminish to one run. In the end, the Maroon and Gray gained the series victory by besting the Panthers, 4-3, in the afternoon game.
In the morning contest, senior second baseman Will Hall (Seattle, WA) kicked things off with a single and then moved to second on senior third baseman Brendan Gardiner's (Mission Viejo, CA) walk. However, Chapman answered the call with three straight outs to hold the Bulldogs scoreless in the first inning.
After the Panthers tallied an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning, Redlands equalized the score in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by senior outfielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA), which sent senior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) home following his triple to left center.
Nonetheless, the Panthers answered right back in the bottom of the fourth by scoring one more to take a 2-1 lead.
The Redlands offense roared back in the top of the fifth inning to score three runs, all coming on a huge, two-out swing off the bat of senior outfielder Jordan Babbitt (Highland, CA). With one out, Hall and Gardiner earned back-to-back free passes and subsequently advanced on a wild pitch. Senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) also drew a walk to load the bases. After another out was recorded, up came Babbitt, who drove a double into the left-center gap, allowing all three runs to score for the Bulldogs' 4-2 advantage.
Senior pitcher Adam Stead (Rialto, CA) completed seven innings of work while giving up only one earned run on five hits. Stead also recorded five strikeouts on the day.
With the game in the hands of the bullpen, the Bulldogs allowed a run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly but got out of the inning with a double play and the lead still intact.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Redlands bullpen issued two walks to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt attempt by the Panthers turned into a costly throwing error by the Bulldogs, which gave Chapman the opportunity to tie the ballgame at four apiece. With runners on second and third, the Bulldogs elected to load the bases by intentionally walking the subsequent batter. With no outs and the bases juiced, Chapman came up with the game-winning run on the Bulldogs' fourth error of the game.
With the final score of 4-5, the Redlands Bulldogs looked to quickly move on, with the rubber match to follow.
With Hall and Gardiner teaming up to earn walks at the start of the contest, back-to-back wild pitches allowed Hall to score and Gardiner to move over to third. Aguilar knocked a single to plate Gardiner for the Bulldogs' two-run lead. With more to do in the first inning, Redlands took advantage of another set of wild pitches, which moved Aguilar to third. Junior first baseman Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) stepped up to the plate to drive in the run on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Redlands extended its lead to 4-0 after yet another wild pitch by a Chapman pitcher provided enough of an opening for Moore to touch home for the Bulldogs.
Nonetheless, the Panthers answered with a run of their own in the third inning. But stellar pitching by senior Noah Jones (San Bernardino, CA) minimized Chapman's offense to only one run through seven innings.
First-year pitcher Chris Fousek Jr. (San Diego, CA) lifted Jones in the eighth with one out and a runner on third. Fousek Jr. limited the damage, as only one more run managed to score. Both runs were charged to Jones, who tallied 7.1 innings overall and allowed only three runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking none.
Fousek Jr. finished the game strong, earning his first career save as a Bulldog and allowing Redlands to capture the series victory over Chapman with a game-two score of 4-3. This marked the Bulldogs' first, regular-season series victory over the Panthers in Aaron Holley's tenure as head coach.
Gardiner stole the show at the plate as he earned an astounding six walks on the day, with three in each game of the doubleheader. This pushed his early-season total to 13.
Redlands (5-2, 2-1 SCIAC) travels to Whittier College to face the Poets in another SCIAC match-up on Friday, February 23, at 2:30 p.m.