Kingsmen Double Up LeTourneau
NCAA Division III playoffs continue for CLU
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Taking the field in a win-or-go-home situation, the No. 5 Cal Lutheran baseball team faced off with LeTourneau (Tex.) on the third day of the NCAA Division III Baseball Playoffs hosted at Linfield College as part of the McMinnville Regional. The Kingsmen doubled up the Yellow Jackets 2-1 in a must-win game at Roy Hesler Field inside of Jim Wright Stadium.
Starting pitcher Scott Peters worked 8.0 innings before Aaron Roth took the ball in the ninth for his 13th save of the spring, breaking his own single-season record and cracking into the CLU Top-10 for strike outs in a career. Peters (6-2) struck out four and picked off two runners, the second with the help of shortstop Austin Kay who also finished with an RBI and scored the winning run.
Peters had a lead after the offense produced a run in the second. Ramsey Abushahla bunted for a single and Kyle Sanchez worked a walk. Davey Casciola moved the runners up and nearly beat out the throw from shortstop before Nick Cohan also walked. Kay drove in Abushahla on a fielder’s choice for the lone run of the inning, though the Kingsmen loaded the bases twice. CLU hitters showed patience at the plate as LTU starting pitcher Justin Jenkins struggled to find the zone, forcing the junior hurler to throw a lot of pitches.
Through the first five stanzas, Peters had faced just one batter over the minimum. During the top of the fifth, Chris Bertram tagged the CLU southpaw for a single to right, but he promptly picked the runner off first for the final out of the frame.
In the bottom part of the inning, CLU tacked on the second and ultimate winning run of the day. Kay and Spencer DuBois connected for back-to-back singles and Justin Caña loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice, in which no one was retired, for Jake Petersen. Serving as the designated hitter against LeTourneau, the senior lifted a sacrifice fly to double the lead for a 2-0 advantage.
A solo homerun from Dillon Yates in the seventh was the only LTU run of the game and the final scoring play of the contest.
Another 1-2-3 eighth inning featured the second pickoff for Peters as he combined with Collin Crowl and Kay for the out.
Roth took the ball in the ninth and despite Garrett Methvin and David Perkins each singling, and moving into scoring position on a wild pitch, the CLU closer recorded a strike out looking, one swinging and forced a ground ball to Kay to end the game and the season of the Yellow Jackets.
LeTourneau (33-15) outhit Cal Lutheran nine to three, but the timeliness of the CLU hits was impeccable. Leading the LTU attack were Bertram and Sean Sellers with two base knocks apiece. Jenkins (8-4) was tagged with the loss after going all 8.0 innings. He struck out four and walked a pair.
Cal Lutheran played errorless baseball. Kay and Nicho DellaValle each had two putouts with four and three assists apiece, respectively, at shortstop and second base. Splitting time at first base, Sanchez and Crowl combined for 15 putouts without a miscue.
Day three got underway with host Linfield defeating University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 3-2, but not without some drama. Trailing 3-2 in the eighth as the designated home team, UWSP seemingly tied the game up on a solo homerun by Kyle McHugh, but an appeal went in favor of LC and McHugh was called out for missing first base. Using the long ball, the Wildcats scored twice on homeruns from Nick Fisher and Jo Carroll. Eric Lawson also came across the plate for Linfield in the win, which was recorded by Zach Brandon (8-1) after he struck out three and scattered six hits and two earned runs. Zach Manley came in for the three-inning save and struck out one. Tyler Flood (2-4) was the losing pitcher of record, lasting just 3.2 innings, allowing all three runs on seven hits.
Cal Lutheran (36-9) and Wisconsin-Stevens Point (31-12) will battle at 7:00 p.m. for a spot in the championships game(s) tomorrow.
Illinois Wesleyan (24-20) and Trinity (Tex.) (33-10) were eliminated on Thursday.
The Regional finale on Saturday, May 17 will feature defending national champion Linfield against the winner of the CLU/UWSP game. First pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m. with a second game to follow at 3:30 p.m. if necessary. The winner will advance to the 2014 NCAA Division III College World Series in Appleton, Wis. from May 23-27.
Box Score: CLU 2, LTU 1
McMinnville Regional Website: McMinnville Regional Tournament Information
Playoff Central: D3baseball.com Tournament Central
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