Baseball scores 15, dominates Vanguard in GSAC rematch
Biola continues to prove it is on the right track by taking out old rival. | Austin Green / THE CHIMES
So far, the Eagles are passing all the tests. After a successful weeklong road trip to Hawaii, baseball routed an old Golden State Athletic Conference rival, the Vanguard University Lions, on March 6. Just one season after the Eagles and Lions finished in a tie for second place in the GSAC standings, the two teams appeared worlds apart on Tuesday as Biola torched Vanguard’s pitching for a 15-6 blowout. Freshman outfielder Ryan Gallegos and sophomore third baseman Jacob Portaro, two newcomers who have forced themselves into manager Jay Sullenger’s everyday starting lineup, continued their stellar play of late with a combined six RBI.
“They’re starting to feel comfortable and find their place,” Sullenger said. “I think once you do that, the chemistry starts to hit and guys start to have success.”
LEAVITT TAMES LIONS
Gallegos got the scoring started with a two-run double in the first but Vanguard answered in the top of the second, scoring three off redshirt freshman starting pitcher Christian Hammar. The Eagles responded with four in the bottom of the second, highlighted by another RBI from Gallegos on a bases-loaded single. However, the Lions came right back in the third, as a two-run home run knocked Hammar out of the game and cut the Eagles’ lead to 6-5. Sullenger turned to another new face, junior relief pitcher Joey Leavitt, and Leavitt answered with four shutout innings. Leavitt’s clutch performance got him the win, and came on the heels of a similar outing on March 2 at Hawaii Pacific University, in which he went four scoreless with six strikeouts.
“Joey has done a phenomenal job,” Sullenger said. “Just coming in, throwing a lot of strikes, getting zeroes on the board, and allowing the bats to do the rest.”
PORTARO STAYS HOT
The bats wasted little time holding up their end of the bargain. In a four-batter sequence in the bottom of the fourth, senior outfielder Jerron Largusa homered, Gallegos singled, Portaro whacked a two-run homer and freshman designated hitter Tyler Piston followed that with a long ball of his own to give the Eagles their 10th run. Biola would add two more in the fifth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth to give their bullpen plenty of cushion as the Eagles cruised to the easy victory.
Largusa and Gallegos finished a combined 7-8 with five RBI. Portaro went 3-4 with four RBI of his own to total nine over his past two games after an early-season slump. He credits some adjustments he made with assistant coach Andy Smith while in Hawaii as the turning point in his performance.
“Ever since then, I’ve been hitting well,” Portaro said. “I backed off the plate a little and closed up [my stance], and it’s just been working for me.”
The Eagles will now get a weeklong break before wrapping up their nonconference slate at home against the University of Saint Katherine on March 13 at 2 p.m.