CLAREMONT, Calif. — Though Claremont-Mudd-Scripps took Saturday's game one 4-1, the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen rallied to win game two 4-3 and take the series over the Stags in opening weekend of conference play.
On the bump for the Kingsmen, senior Chris Kovach shutout the Stags for five innings to start the doubleheader. Working his way out of jam in the fifth with two runners in scoring position, the transfer out of Oklahoma Baptist looked solid entering the sixth.
Unfortunately, the Stags got to him that inning, scoring two on an RBI double from Ryan Motter and subsequent single by Carson Bridges. After 5.1 innings, Kovach exited the game after allowing two runs on six hits and three walks.
Taking over the mound, sophomore Clay Rickerman struck out three batters to send the Kingsmen into the eighth still trailing by just two. But once again, CMS notched a two-spot in the eighth to push their lead to 4-0 heading into the final stretch for the Kingsmen.
Hoping for the comeback, junior Ryne Yamashiro and Kaden White both reached on back-to-back errors by the Stags to lead off the top the ninth. Next up to the plate, junior Matt Sciumbato reached on a fielder's choice with the Stags getting Yamashiro out at the third.
However, with junior Nick Pico up to bat, CMS pitcher Danny Porras threw an illegal pitch to move both runners automatically into scoring position. Pico took advantage of the situation and sent one to left field for the sacrifice fly and bringing White home. Unfortunately, the lone run was not enough and the Stags took the early game 4-1.
On the other hand, the Kingsmen came out into the second game ready to fight. For the second day in a row, White knocked in the first run of the game, this time with an RBI single in the first to score Wright.
In the starting spot, sophomore Scott Roberts allowed just one run in five innings of work with three punchouts. His lone score came in the bottom of the first on a solo homer to left by Zach Clarke.
Tied 1-1, Pico broke through for the Kingsmen with a two-run bomb in the third to put Cal Lutheran on top 3-1. The following inning, Wright found his groove with an RBI single of his own to send senior Trevor Egan home and push the score up 4-1.
However, the Stags decided to make things interesting in the final innings. Clarke homered over the left field wall once again in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit to two, and Kevin Nakahara followed with an RBI in the seventh to shave it to one.
Though, with junior Christian Slattery on the bump to close, the Kingsmen shut down the Stags to close out the 4-3 victory and series win. Tonight marks Slattery's third save on the year and second in as many appearances.
The victory moves the Kingsmen to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. Cal Lutheran returns to the field tomorrow morning at Ullman Stadium for a non-conference matchup against the Whitworth Pirates at 11 a.m.
Box Score: CMS 4, CLU 1; CLU 4, CMS 3
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director