The University of Redlands baseball team headed to Whittier College to face the Poets in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) match-up on Friday afternoon. Despite a late-inning push by the visiting team, the Bulldogs could not match Whittier's consistent scoring and ultimately fell by a final score of 3-7.
Senior hurler Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA) took the pearl for game one of the three-game series against the Poets. Although Minjarez struck out back-to-back batters in the bottom of the first, he gave up just the eighth home run of his four-year career, putting Redlands in an early 0-1 hole.
Errors plagued the Maroon and Gray in the bottom of the second, as Whittier took advantage to score two more.
In the top of the third, senior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) found his way on by a hit-by-pitch and subsequently stole second. With one out, senior third baseman Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) sent a single up the middle for the RBI, which cut the deficit to 1-3.
Minjarez struck out two and pitched for the ground out to put his team back on offense relatively quickly in the bottom half of the inning. Although senior designated hitter Joey Warner (Palm Desert, CA) recorded a single to left field and then stole second, he was still stranded by the end of the frame.
The Poets added two over the next two innings on a combined three hits to make the score 5-1 after five.
The visiting team attempted the comeback in the sixth, with senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) leading off the inning with a sharp hit through the 3-4 hole. Senior first basemen Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) traded places with him on a double to left center for one run. Moore then advanced to third on a wild pitch before junior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) sent a deep sacrifice fly to center for Moore's run to make it 3-5.
Although Redlands fought to inch closer, the Poets matched the Bulldogs' two runs in the bottom of the sixth off the arm of relief pitcher, first-year Chris Fousek Jr. (San Diego, CA).
Fousek quickly regrouped in the seventh and retired the side with all strikeouts. Impressively, the last two blew past the batters with looking punch-outs.
Neither team could muster any more offense over the final three innings, resulting in the Bulldogs' loss.
Nonetheless, Minjarez struck out seven in five innings of work, while Fousek fanned four in three innings.
Redlands (5-3, 2-2 SCIAC) returns home to The Yard to face the Poets in the final two games of the series on Saturday, February 24. Game times are slotted for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.