The University of Redlands baseball team took on non-conference opponent Centenary College (LA) in Saturday's home opener at The Yard. The Bulldogs were off to the races in the opening nine innings, as they downed the Gents by a score of 9-2. Despite a strong showing in the first game, Redlands struggled to maintain that momentum and ultimately lost the night cap in a 4-9 decision.
Junior pitcher Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA) took to the bump for the Maroon and Gray's inaugural game of the 2017 campaign. After giving up a single to the Gents' lead-off batter, Minjarez settled in and sat down the next three batters, including one punch-out looking.
Offensively, senior outfielder Mitch Samson (Orangevale, CA) started things off by knocking a single up the middle, and proceeded to successfully steal second and move to third on the subsequent batter. Senior second baseman Christopher Scalisi (Woodland Hills, CA) sent a sacrifice fly deep to center field, allowing Samson to tag up and score from third for the Bulldogs' first run of the game.
After Minjarez struck out the side in the top of the second, the Bulldogs went back to work at the dish to put up seven runs on seven hits. Junior third baseman Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) kicked off the hit parade by knocking a single to right-center field, before sophomore shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) and senior first baseman John Keane (Clayton, CA) followed suit to load the bases. With two outs, Samson stepped up to the plate to blast off his second hit of the day, scoring two runs in the process. Due to a costly Gents' error and the fast feet of junior designated hitter Joey Warner (Indio, CA), the inning was extended for five more runs. Scalisi, junior outfielder Jordan Babbitt (Highland, CA), and senior outfielder Christian Conci (San Mateo, CA) each belted singles to keep the two-out rally going. With the bases still loaded, the Gents hurled a wild pitch to the backstop, allowing Babbitt to take home for the Bulldogs' 8-0 lead.
After Redlands put up the crooked number in the second, both pitchers found a good rhythm and cruised through the next three frames. Senior hurler John White (Burbank, CA) took over the pitching duties for the Bulldogs in the top of the sixth and struck out two in his 1.1 innings of work.
Freshman pitcher Michael Rishebarger (Oceanside, CA) entered the game in the eighth inning for his inaugural outing as a Bulldog. With two outs, the Gents strung together three base-hits for two runs, before Rischebarger finished out the inning on a routine groundout.
The Bulldogs added one more run in the bottom of the eighth due in part to junior Rainier Aguilar's (San Bernardino, CA) two-out double, which was followed by a Scalisi single to send him home. Rishebarger closed out the top of the ninth, including two strikeouts, to preserve the Maroon and Gray's win.
Samson impressed as the lead-off hitter by going 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Scalisi, Babbitt, and Warner each recorded multi-hit performances in the triumph.
Senior Michael Collins (Upland, CA) was handed the pearl for game two of the doubleheader. He immediately put trust in his defense, as the first three Centenary batters got out by great plays in the field.
Offensively, Redlands struck first, with Babbitt lacing a single to right field to send Warner home and put the Bulldogs up, 1-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, Redlands stretched its lead to two runs, when Gardiner belted a single up the middle to plate Singh, who had walked and moved to second on a passed ball.
However, the top of the fifth proved to be trouble for Collins, as the Gents' lead-off batter knocked a double to left-center. Amidst six hits, one error, and one passed ball, Centenary put together a six-run showing to force the Bulldogs into catch-up mode.
Redlands got after it in the bottom of the fifth, as junior outfielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) started off the inning with a single up the middle. Conci sent a double to deep right-field, allowing Kabeary to touch home. After Warner, Scalisi, and Babbitt loaded the bases, the Centenary pitcher hit Singh in the box to advance all runners for another run. A pitching change was in order for the Gents, who subsequently got out of the inning on the next Bulldog batter.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Gents tacked on three more runs while holding the home team scoreless through the remainder of the game. Although Redlands put in fresh bats with hopes of closing the gap, the Maroon and Gray dropped the second game by a score of 4-9.
Warner stayed hot in the second game, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
Redlands (1-1) looks forward to traveling to Tucson, AZ, for the Cactus Classic on February 10-12. The Bulldogs take on George Fox University (OR) in their first game on Friday at 11:30 a.m. MST.