THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The No. 19 Cal Lutheran baseball team reached the 30-win plateau for the fifth straight season while advancing to its fifth consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament Championship game with a 4-3 win over Redlands on Saturday at Ullman Stadium.
After a long day at the ballpark, the final two teams standing are host Cal Lutheran and third-seeded Redlands.
In game one of the day, Chapman defeated La Verne 8-7 in a three-and-a-half-hour affair. A back-and-forth game went to the Panthers who scored the winning run in the top of the ninth to advance while La Verne was eliminated.
Once game two got underway, Nate Wehner (7-3) took the mound for the Kingsmen and earned his seventh win of the year behind a strong 6.1 innings of work while striking out three and allowing just one earned run.
Serving as the visiting team as per tournament rules, the Violet and Gold jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With one out, Sinjin Todd stroked a single to left which was followed by another single to left from Gabe Gunter. With a red-hot Jimmy Jauregui at the dish and the runners in motion, the senior third basemen reached out and poked a single to center to bring Todd around from second.
Todd made things happen yet again in the third inning, lining a single to center and sprinting to second on the play after the centerfielder mishandled the ball. Utilizing his speed, Todd raced home from second base on a wild pitch to score and put CLU ahead 2-0.
In the sixth, Brad Fullerton led off the inning with a walk and moved into scoring position on a single by Cheynne Giles. After a textbook sacrifice bunt from Trey Saito to move both runners up, Austin Kay came through with a two-RBI single up the middle.
Redlands brought a run across in the bottom of the sixth and threatened with another in the eighth but a sensational diving catch from Gunter, that turned into two outs after doubling up the runner at third, prevented the Bulldogs from mustering any more runs in the inning.
Redlands came within one after scoring in the bottom of the ninth, but Miguel Salud was able to slam the door for his eighth save of the season.
Todd was a catalyst for the offense, going 2-for-5 with two runs, while Jauregui and Fullerton added two hits apiece. Gunter, Giles, Saito, Kay and Max Weinstein provided the other hits for CLU.
Bulldogs starter Michael Collins (5-5) was tagged with the loss after going eight innings, allowing 11 hits and four runs while striking out six.
The final game of the day pitted Chapman and Redlands in a rematch of the opening round. Because the contest did not get started until nearly 4:30, the teams played into darkness. A shootout, each team scored four runs in the first frame, but it was a grand slam by B Gardiner in the bottom of the seventh that ultimately propelled the Bulldogs past the Panthers in a 17-8 victory. CU saw its season end and UR moved on to play another day.
Cal Lutheran (30-10) and Redlands will meet on the diamond tomorrow, May 7 at 11:00 a.m. with an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals on the line.
Box Score: CLU 4, UR 3
Tournament Central: 2017 SCIAC Baseball Postseason Tournament
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