Chapman baseball coach Judd Liebau and the rest of his staff saw a doubleheader sweep coming. With wins hard to come by for a large part of the season, the Fighting Irish’s work ethic never faltered. And their hard work paid off Friday afternoon in a doubleheader sweep against St. Mary’s.
“We’ve had a rough start to the year, but in the last week or two they have been really putting in time and working hard,” Liebau said. “We, as coaches, could see this was kind of coming and it was nice for them to finally get a doubleheader sweep.”
It took 14 innings to decide game one of the doubleheader, due in large part to a pitching duel between the teams. Noah Riegel got the start for the Fighting Irish in game one, and was magnificent. Riegel pitched five shutout innings for Chapman, recording five strikeouts. Gabe Barten replaced him in the sixth inning. Liebau was pleased with the pitching performances, which kept the Fighting Irish in the game from the start.
“We were very efficient,” Liebau said. “We have games coming up next week, and guys on pitch counts, and we were very efficient. We pounded the strike zone like we’ve been preaching. Kids really stepped up and did a good job. Some guys haven’t thrown in awhile and everybody threw strikes. That’s the name of the game; throwing strikes.”
With the game tied at one run apiece in the 14th inning, Chapman put the game away. Colton Crable led off with a single to center, and Eli Riegel followed with another single. Two batters later, the bases were juiced for Wyatt Steppe, and he ended it with one swing of his bat. Steppe knocked in a game-winning base hit that sent the players in the dugout to the field to celebrate a long and hard-fought game one victory.
Chance Liebau took the mound in game two, and had a lot more run support to work with. The Fighting Irish quickly made their dent in the scoreboard in the second inning. With two batters reaching base to begin the inning, Steppe continued his hot hitting with an RBI-double to knock in both base runners. Chance gave himself some run support of his own by following Steppe with a two-run hit to put Chapman up 4-0. Then, Barten followed that with another RBI to put Chapman up 5-0. Judd knew it was only a matter of time until the team’s hard-hit balls translated into some run production.
“We hit a lot of balls hard at them, and of course they did too,” Judd said. “We thought we hit the ball pretty well the first game, and just had nothing to show for it. We kept telling the guys, if you keep hitting it hard enough, often enough, it’s going to find holes. And you know it came to be that was the case. It’s good for the kids to realize you just keep chopping wood, you’re eventually going to get there.”
Chance pitched four innings in game two, fanning seven Bears on the day. He helped the Fighting Irish cruise to a 12-2 victory and a two-game sweep.