The University of Redlands baseball team took to non-conference action on Friday afternoon by facing off against the University of Puget Sound (WA) Loggers under clear, sunny skies in the Yard. Amidst a less-than-stellar day on the diamond, the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak was snapped by the visiting team with a 5-3 decision.
Freshman hurler Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA) looked to maintain his perfect record on the mound against the Loggers but faced some early challenges that led to a five-run deficit. Due in part to a Bulldog fielding blunder, Redlands allowed four runs to come across the dish in the top of the third inning. Furthermore, Puget Sound plated one more run the following frame, putting the Bulldogs in a sizeable hole early on.
Junior reliever Kevin Stevens (Highland, CA) entered the game in the top of the fifth inning and was lights out for the Bulldogs, cruising through five innings while blanking the Loggers' offense en route to five strikeouts.
After allowing the first three batters to reach base, Stevens wiggled his way out of a crucial bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth. Despite his sudden woes, Stevens successfully sent the fourth batter of the inning back to the dugout with a strikeout, which was followed by an inning-ending double-play that senior shortstop Jordan Dresner (Etiwanda, CA) and sophomore second baseman Christopher Scalisi (Woodland Hills, CA) had no trouble turning.
The Bulldogs cracked the goose egg in the bottom of the seventh inning, as senior right-fielder Connor Hancock (Burbank, CA) led off the inning with a two-strike triple into the left-center gap. He later came around to score after junior left-fielder Mitch Samson(Orangevale, CA) put pressure on the Puget Sound defense and forced a fielding miscue, trimming the Loggers' lead to four runs at 5-1.
Late-inning rallies began to form for the U of R in the bottom of the eighth inning, starting with a two-out walk drawn by senior catcher Sean McMillan (Redwood City, CA). Dresner followed with a screaming single down the left-field line, bringing up Hancock with runners on first and second with two gone. Following a classic pitcher-hitter battle, Hancock knocked a 3-2 blooper into no-man's land in shallow left field, allowing freshman pinch-runner Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) and Dresner to score.
Despite their late-inning production, the Bulldogs were handed just their 10th loss of the season, with this one coming by a final tally of 3-5.
After allowing five runs through four innings, three of which were earned, Minjarez picked up his first loss in a Bulldog uniform.
Stevens strung together an impressive performance out of the bullpen, as he chucked a season-high five innings while not allowing a run and scattering three hits.
Hancock finished the day by going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
The Bulldogs complete the three-game set against the UPS Loggers with a doubleheader on Sunday, April 19, at the Yard. Prior to the 10 a.m. start, Redlands looks forward to honoring its four seniors.