The Vanguard Lions (27-9-1) swung their way to a 14-2 victory on Tuesday, April 5 against the Mariners of Marymount California University (12-20-1). Brandon Sandoval (JR/ Fallbrook, Calif.) led the way for the offense, going 3-4 at the plate, recording a homerun and four RBIs.
After leaving the bases loaded in the first, the Lions managed to climb on the board in the second inning, courtesy of a two-run blast from Sandoval, his first of the year. The Mariners answered back in the third, stringing three hits together to bring in two runs and tie the game. Marymount would struggle to get any offense going for the rest of the game.
The Lions did not hesitate to reclaim the lead, tallying four hits and five runs in the bottom of the frame. Jose Rojas (SR/Anaheim, Calif.) sent his 9th home run of the season over the right field fence for a solo shot with one out in the inning to give Vanguard the lead once again. The Lions’ shortstop finished the day going 3-6 with two RBIs, also scoring two runs. Sam Neufeld (FR/ Indio, Calif.) enjoyed a 2-4 day at the plate, with two RBIs. Kevin Bettencourt (SR/Modesto, Calif.) also had a fine day swinging the bat, earning two hits and a walk in four at-bats.
Rojas commented on his home run and the team’s win, “It’s just a matter of consistently putting good swings on the ball and letting the rest take care of itself. I got a good pitch to hit, and was able to put some good barrel on it”. Tuesday marked the 17th multi-hit game for Rojas this season, as well as his 10th three hit effort. “We’ve been really sluggish in most of our midweek games this year, so it was huge to come out and make a statement with this win,” Rojas added.
On the mound, the Lions were paced by Chris Lumanlan (JR/Irvine, Calif.) (3-0), who threw five strong innings, surrendering just two runs, en route to his third win of the season. Matt Silberman (SR/Murrieta, Calif.), Jake Mellenthin (JR/New Plymouth, Idaho) and Kurt Gairing (SO/ Corona, Calif.) combined to go four scoreless innings in relief, and preserve the lead for the Vanguard squad.
After the win, Lumanlan stated, “From here on out, every game is a big game, so this was an important win for us. We swung it well today, we were focused, and it really showed in the outcome.” In the latest NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the Lions moved up two spots from last week, to 13th in the country. This marks the highest national ranking for Vanguard to this point in the season.
Tuesday’s win improves Vanguard’s head to head record against the Mariners this year to 4-0-1. The Lions are now riding a four game winning streak as they head into a non-conference weekend series at home, against Bethesda University (22-15).