Appleton, Wis. - Making its first appearance in the College World Series in 18 years, the ABCA No. 15 Cal Lutheran baseball team made its presence felt on Friday night with an opening 4-2 victory over Wheaton (Mass.) at the 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships.
Starting pitcher Marshall Pautsch has been nearly untouchable on the mound in the past few weeks and turned in another stellar performance to put the Kingsmen in a favorable position once again. Pitching on his parent's anniversary, the senior San Clemente, Calif. native gave them the best gift they could ask for with 10 strikeouts over eight innings while scattering seven hits and allowing just two earned runs.
The Violet and Gold came out with a lot of energy as leadoff hitter Max Weinstein drove the first pitch he saw to the wall in center field for a double. In the very next at-bat, Sinjin Todd drove a single to left and Weinstein came around to score after the left fielder misplayed the ball.
CLU doubled up on its lead to make it 2-0 in the second inning after Brad Fullerton drew a leadoff walk, advanced on a Trey Saito single, and scored on a Weinstein RBI single to right.
With his second hit in as many innings, Weinstein broke a 36-year-old CLU single-season record for hits with 75, surpassing Eric Hedgeman who had 74 in 1981.
Pautsch continued to silent the Lyons bats and the Kingsmen extended their lead to 3-0 with a run in the sixth inning. Cheynne Giles made it happen with a double to the left center gap to leadoff the frame, and came around to score on a Wheaton error.
The Lyons made three errors throughout the game which led to two unearned runs for CLU.
In the seventh, the Lyons broke through for their first run of the game after a pair of hits but Pautsch returned to form in the eighth with a one-two-three inning and two strikeouts.
Saito provided a key insurance run for the Kingsmen after driving a triple to lead off the eighth and coming in to score on an RBI single from Austin Kay.
Wheaton threatened in the ninth, scoring a run and loading the bases, but Miguel Salud pitched his way out of the jam by striking out the side to preserve the win. For Salud, he earned his 12th save of the season and set the CLU single-season record for most appearances with 30. Aaron Roth held the previous record with 29 set in 2013.
Weinstein and Saito both went 2-for-4 with a run to pace the Kingsmen offense while Fullerton drew two walks. Tood, Giles, Kay and Weston Clark came through with the other hits for a CLU team that was outhit on the evening 9-8.
Cal Lutheran (36-10) advances to the winner's bracket in Pool B to face North Central (Ill.) (30-16) tomorrow night, May 27 at 5:45 PT. The No. 7 seeded Cardinals upset No. 2 UMass-Boston 5-2 behind a late rally to set up a date with the Kingsmen.
Box Score: CLU 4, WC 2
Tournament Central: 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships
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