SPOKANE, Wash. - On day two of the 2016 NCAA Division III Spokane Regional at Avista Stadium, the Cal Lutheran baseball team dropped a heartbreaker, 8-6, to sister school Pacific Lutheran in an elimination game to see its season come to an end on Thursday afternoon.
The Kingsmen led by as many as five runs on two separate occasions, but saw their lead erased after the Lutes scored seven unanswered runs, including a five-run seventh inning to change the tide of the game.
To open the contest, the CLU offense was firing on all cylinders as they put up three quick runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a two-RBI double to right center off the bat of Gabe Gunter. Davey Casciola and Chad Clark, who walked and singled to lead off the inning, respectively, came around to score on the play. Later in the frame, Ramsey Abushahla drilled a double to the base of the wall in left to score Gunter and put the Violet and Gold ahead 3-0.
In the second inning, C. Clark made it a 5-0 Kingsmen advantage with a two-run homerun off the top of the wall in left field.
PLU tacked on a run in the fourth but CLU responded with a run its own in the fifth on an RBI single from Gunter to bring home Casciola and take a 6-1 lead.
The Lutes crept closer, making it a 6-3 game, after a two-run homerun by Tyler Thompson and completed the comeback with five runs in the seventh inning. The Kingsmen nearly escaped unscathed, but a two-out, two-strike double with the bases loaded gave PLU a 7-6 lead and took the wind out of the Kingsmen sails.
CLU had runners reach base in the eighth and ninth innings but were unable to string a rally together.
Evan Peterson started on the mound for the Kingsmen and picked up a no decision after throwing six innings and allowing eight hits and three earned runs while striking out five.
Garrett Brown (4-3) earned the win for PLU after entering in the third inning and holding the Violet and Gold to just three hits and one earned run with three strikeouts.
At the plate, the Kingsmen were led by C. Clark who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Gunter and Abushahla each tallied two hits apiece.
With three runs scored in the game, Casciola broke the CLU record for most runs in a single season with 60. Darrell McMillin previously held the record for 24 years. Casciola was the lone Kingsmen named to the Spokane Regional All-Tournament Team.
Cal Lutheran finishes the season with a 31-13 record and graduates nine seniors in Abushahla, Justin Caņa, Casciola, C. Clark, Landry Kiyabu, Tyler Nevins, Peterson, Max Price and Mitchell Shields.
Box Score: PLU 8, CLU 6
Tournament Central: 2016 NCAA Division III Spokane Regional
CLU Twitter: https://twitter.com/clusports
CLU Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clusports
CLU Instagram: http://instagram.com/clusports#