Appleton, Wis. - The Cal Lutheran baseball team was firing on all cylinders on Saturday night and cruised to a 14-5 victory over North Central (Ill.) as the College World Series field was trimmed to six at the 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships at Fox Cities Stadium.
With the win, the Kingsmen advance to the Pool B final tomorrow night, and sit just one win away from reaching the championship best-of-three series.
CLU carried the momentum into the third frame by scoring four runs to jump out to an early 5-0 lead. Austin Kay led off the inning with a single to left and moved into scoring position after a botched pickoff attempt. Sinjin Todd promptly singled to left to move Kay over to third and Gabe Gunter came through with an RBI double to left. With two on, Jimmy Jauregui cleared the bases with a single to left while Brad Fullerton capped off the scoring in the inning with an RBI single that dropped into right field.
The Cardinals responded with a run in the third inning despite being held hitless through three by Kingsmen starter Nate Wehner.
With a runner on second and one out in the fourth, Max Weinstein continued to light up the scoreboard for the Violet and Gold with a two-run homerun that managed to stay fair and clear the right field wall.
Up 7-1 entering the bottom half of the inning, North Central did its best to make a run, collecting five hits and three runs to bring the score to 7-4.
After two scoreless innings to follow, the Kingsmen broke through for four runs in the seventh, highlighted by an RBI double from Gunter and a two-RBI single up the middle by Fullerton.
The Cardinals scraped across one more in the eighth inning before CLU blew it wide open with three more runs in the ninth on RBI hits from Giles, Trey Saito and Kay.
Wehner (9-3) earned the win after starting strong and finishing with eight hits allowed, five runs and seven strikeouts through 7.1 innings. Miguel Salud spelled Wehner in relief and shut down the Cardinals in the final 1.2 innings with three strikeouts to secure the win.
CLU racked up 14 total hits in the game, compared to 10 from North Central, and were led by a 3-for-5 and three RBI performance from Fullerton. Eight of the nine Kingsmen finished with at least one hit, while Clark walked three times and scored three runs. Weinstein, Gunter, Giles and Kay finished with two hits apiece.
Cardinals starter Evan Blunk (6-3) went just three innings before being chased from the game after allowing five runs and six hits.
Cal Lutheran (37-10) advances to the Pool B final and will await the winner of North Central and UMass-Boston, who play in an elimination game earlier in the day. If CLU wins tomorrow night they advance to the championship final against the winner of Pool A in a best-of-three series.
Box Score: CLU 14, NC 5
Tournament Central: 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships
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