The University of Redlands baseball team began its final push in hopes of obtaining one of four spots in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament by competing against the ninth-seeded Caltech Beavers and the second-seeded University of La Verne Leopards in Saturday's SCIAC Final-Four action. The Bulldogs took care of business on a rainy day at the Yard, hauling in wins by the scores of 18-0 and 6-3, respectively.
The Bulldogs came out on fire in the first game against the Beavers, as they managed to tally at least one run in each frame, including a four-spot in the second and a seven-run outburst in the third.
After senior shortstop Jordan Dresner (Etiwanda, CA) launched a sacrifice fly to center field in the first inning, the RBI-train began chugging in the innings to come, beginning with a four-run mark in the second stanza. In addition to capitalizing on a passed ball for a run, the Bulldogs looked to junior third baseman Mark Tumlinson (Anaheim, CA) and senior catcher Sean McMillan (Redwood City, CA) to supply RBI at-bats, as Tumlinson recorded a sacrifice fly and McMillan drilled a single down the left-field line for a 5-0 Redlands lead.
The Bulldogs took advantage of a Caltech fielding blunder and quickly followed with a seven-spot in the bottom of the third. Tumlinson forced the error by putting the ball in play, thus continuing the inning for the Maroon and Gray. Sophomore center-fielder Christian Conci (San Mateo, CA) and Dresner each barreled up two-out, RBI-singles in the inning, while senior right-fielder Connor Hancock (Burbank, CA) laced a two-out triple in the right-center gap to plate two and expand the home team's lead to 12-0.
Redlands continued to pour on the runs, as it scored five more over the following two innings. Freshman second baseman Ian Chavez (Carlsbad, CA) and Conci each notched doubles in the inning, combining for three RBI. Conci continued his RBI trend an inning later by lofting a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing junior right-fielder Tyler Shreve (Redlands, CA) to touch home after he led off the inning with a walk. Junior designated hitter Nathan Bowker (Edmond, OK) followed with an RBI-groundout to first base, scoring freshman center-fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA), who reached base after doubling down the right-field line.
Senior southpaw Josh Makler (Portland, OR) earned the victory by going the distance and holding the Beavers scoreless through seven innings while fanning seven. In addition, he held the Beavers hitless through four frames.
Conci had an impressive outing at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a double, three RBI, and three runs scored. Junior first baseman Ryan Franklin (Manhattan Beach, CA) was a menace at the dish as well, going 2-for-2 with a walk, one RBI, and three runs scored.
During the afternoon match-up, the Bulldogs looked to continue their morning momentum in the must-win situation against the tied-for-first-place Leopards.
Freshman Matthew Acosta (San Bernardino, CA) was handed the pearl for game two and battled through a tough line-up by tossing 5.2 innings and striking out seven hitters.
The Bulldog offense struck first in the bottom of the opening frame, as McMillan drove a sacrifice fly out to center field to score Samson for the early 1-0 lead.
La Verne capitalized off a Bulldog fielding blunder in the top of the second inning, which aided a one-run inning for the Leopards
After Acosta sat down the Leopards in order in the top of the third inning, Dresner put the Bulldogs back on top at 2-1 by lining a two-out single up the middle to score Tumlinson.
However, the Leopards snatched back the lead at 3-2 after compiling a two-out rally in the top of the fourth.
The Bulldogs were not fazed, as they matched the La Verne two-spot with a two-spot of their own, compliments of an RBI-walk from Tumlinson and an RBI-single through the right side by McMillan in the bottom of the stanza.
Acosta held the Leopards scoreless after the crucial, two-run fourth inning by retiring the side in order once again and firing off a backwards "k" in the process.
The Bulldogs refused to be satisfied with a one-run lead, as Hancock blasted a three-bagger over the center-fielder's head, scoring Dresner for a 5-3 lead. Franklin followed two batters later with a line-drive-single up the middle, plating Hancock for a 6-3 lead.
Senior hurler Michael Collins (Upland, CA) entered the game in the top of the sixth inning and cruised through 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball en route to a rain-shortened victory by a score of 6-3.
All of Redlands' hitters reached base in the second game, as the squad tallied a combined 11 hits. McMillan, Dresner, and Hancock, who make up the heart of the order, each recorded two hits for a combined showing of 6-for-10 with four RBI and two runs scored.
Acosta picked up his seventh win on the year, while Collins punched in quality innings from the bullpen.
The Bulldogs (25-12, 17-8 SCIAC) travel to Claremont to face off against the third-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (27-10, 19-7) on Sunday, April 26, at 11 a.m.