SCIAC Baseball Tournament Preview
Four teams compete for inaugural tournament title
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - For the first time in conference history, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) will hold a four-team double-elimination Post Season Tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Cal Lutheran, the SCIAC regular season champions, enters the inaugural tournament as the No.1 seed, Pomona-Pitzer as the second, Redlands the third, and Occidental rounds out the field as the fourth seed. The tournament begins on Friday, May 3 with Cal Lutheran hosting Occidental (Game 1) at George “Sparky” Anderson Field in Ullman Stadium while Pomona-Pitzer hosts Redlands (Game 2) at Alumni Field. Both games will begin at 3:00 p.m.
The tournament will be played on the campus of Cal Lutheran on Saturday. If CLU is eliminated on Saturday,the the tournament will move to the next highest seed's home field on Sunday. Saturday’s action begins with the loser of Game 1 playing the loser of Game 2 at 9:00 a.m. The winners of Game 1 and Game 2 will meet at noon. Finally, the winner of Game 3 will play the loser of Game 4 at 3:00 p.m.
The tournament will conclude on Sunday, May 5, with the final two teams remaining with first pitch set for 11:00 a.m. If necessary, a following game will be played at 3:00 p.m. to determine the champion.
No. 1 Cal Lutheran (31-7-1, 24-4 SCIAC) at a glance: The tournament’s No. 1 seed and America Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) No. 8 ranked Cal Lutheran enters the post season boasting one of the best offenses in Division III. This season, CLU is hitting .365 as a team and has outscored its opponents 377-165. The Kingsmen lead the nation in a number of categories including hits (515), runs (377), on-base percentage (.443) and doubles (105).
Piloting the Kingsmen offense is Nick Boggan, the Division III leader in RBIs with 63. For the year, Boggan is hitting .410 with 64 hits, 13 doubles and 11 homeruns. Third baseman Nicho DellaValle is second on the team with a .418 average. He leads the SCIAC in triples with six and is third in RBIs with 42. Second baseman Garrett Smith is hitting .385 and is second only to Boggan in RBIs with 43.
Cal Lutheran boasts one of the top two-way players in the country in Jake Petersen. In his first year for the Kingsmen, Petersen is fourth in Division III with a .485 batting average and leads CLU in hits with 65 and runs with 54. When not roaming the outfield, Petersen is also Cal Lutheran No. 1 starter. The junior southpaw is 7-1 with a 3.23 ERA and has struck out 66 batters. Coming out of the bullpen is Aaron Roth who leads the SCIAC with a 1.10 ERA. The junior is 5-1 with eight saves and earlier this season went 46.1 innings without allowing a run.
The Kingsmen are led by Marty Slimak who is in his 20th season as head coach. Already the winningest-coach in CLU history, Slimak has guided the Kingsmen to nine SCIAC championships and finished runner-up at the Division III World Series in 1996. CLU last won a SCIAC championship in 2001.
No. 4 Occidental (26-13, 17-11 SCIAC) at a glance: Coming off its winningest season in 22 years, Occidental sustained its success in 2013, winning 26 regular season games and enters the tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Tigers are led by four-year starting shortstop Logan Allen. Allen, the Tigers all-time hits and doubles leader, comes into the tournament with a .344 average including 14 doubles and 24 RBIs. Jonathon Brooks is fourth in the SCIAC with a .416 average and leads the team with 32 RBIs.
Occidental will also count on one of the top two-way players in the west region, senior pitcher/outfielder Scott Hong. The former closer was converted to Oxy’s No.1 starter the last month of the season and is currently second in the SCIAC with a 1.20 ERA. At the plate, the speedy outfielder has a .331 average and SCIAC-leading 32 steals. Fellow pitcher Joseph Kling leads the Tigers in innings pitched with 67.1 and boasts a 3.21 ERA.
The Tigers are led by Luke Wetmore who in his second year as head coach. Wetmore has quickly turned around the Oxy baseball program, producing 23 wins in 2012 and 26 this season after averaging just 15 in the five previous years. Occidental last won a SCIAC baseball championship in 1982.
No. 2 Pomona-Pitzer (27-12, 20-8 SCIAC) at a glance: Winners of two of the last four SCIAC championships, Pomona-Pitzer comes to the Post Season Tournament as the No. 2 seed after winning 25 games for the seventh straight season. Despite the loss of its No. 2 and 3 pitchers midseason, the Sagehens are second in the SCIAC with a team ERA of 3.39. Pomona-Pitzer is led by one of the top two-way players in the country in Jake Bruml. The pitcher/first baseman is 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 12 starts this season while hitting .366 with 17 doubles and four homeruns. His 34 RBI is tied for the team lead.
The Sagehens will also hope to ride the hot bat of Erik Munzer. After hitting just .190 through the first 10 games, the four-year starting outfielder hit .461 (60-130) over the final 29 games of the season en route to a SCIAC-leading 67 hits. Fellow senior, Nick Gentili is hitting .389 with 17 doubles and 41 runs scored.
On the mound, the Saghens will also rely on Stuart Gano and Collin Majev. Gano leads the team with 13 appearances this season while Majec is 3-0 and carries a 2.89 ERA.
Pomona-Pitzer is led by Frank Pericolosi who is in his 11th season as head coach. The winningest coach in program history, Pericolosi’s teams have captured four SCIAC championships during his tenure with the most current coming in 2010.
No. 3 Redlands (21-16, 17-11 SCIAC) at a glance: The Bulldogs rebounded from 13-15 SCIAC record in 2012 to 17 wins against conference opponents in 2013. One reason for the turnaround was the Bulldogs improved team batting average that jumped by nearly 30 points this season. Junior outfielder Alex Schiewe leads the team with a .459 batting average and has collected 27 RBIs.
Second baseman Jason Henning leads the team in doubles with 11 while outfielder Nathanial Acosta has swatted seven homeruns. Catcher Sean McMillan is the Bulldogs leading run producer with 33 RBIs including 28 during conference play.
Eliot Smith has been the Bulldogs ace this season going 7-2 with a 3.96 ERA. The senior leads the SCIAC with 72 strikeouts, averaging over eight per nine innings. When not pitching, Smith also plays first base and boasts a .333 average with seven doubles. Fellow pitcher John Keane is 4-4 and has thrown two complete-games. Look for Redlands to bring Josh Makler out of the bullpen. Makler leads the SCIAC in appearances with 24 and is third in saves with six.
The Bulldogs are led by Scott Laverty who is in his 14th season as head coach. Under Laverty’s guidance, the Bulldogs have won two SCIAC championships with the most recent coming in 2011.
Game 1: Occidental at Cal Lutheran -- Friday, May 3 – 3:00 p.m.
Probable Starters: RHP Scott Hong (5-1) vs. LHP Jake Petersen (7-1)
Game 2: Redlands at Pomona-Pitzer – Friday, May 3 – 3:00 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Eliot Smith (7-2) vs. RHP Jake Bruml (7-3)
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser – Saturday, May 4 – 9:00 a.m. (@ CLU)
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner – Saturday, May 4 – 12:00 p.m. (@ CLU)
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser – Saturday, May 4 – 3:00 p.m. (@ CLU)
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner – Sunday, May 5 – 11:00 a.m. (@ highest remaining seed)
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser – Sunday, May 5 – 3:00 p.m. (@ highest remaining seed)