Pico Plays Hero as Kingsmen Upset No. 5 Texas Lutheran

Second baseman Nick Pico. (Photo by Kylie McEnroe.)
Second baseman Nick Pico. (Photo by Kylie McEnroe.)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Down go the Bulldogs! The Cal Lutheran Kingsmen took down No. 5 Texas Lutheran 4-2, Friday afternoon, behind a four-spot in the sixth inning. Offensively sophomore Tanner Wright led the team in hits for the second consecutive game and junior Nick Pico capped things off with a three-run double to put the team on top. 

On the bump, senior Justin Fong made his second career start and picked up his second win on the year. Outside of a two-run blemish in the top of the third, Fong allowed just four hits in seven innings of work while walking one and striking out nine. The efficient lefty not only recorded five perfect innings, but struck the Bulldogs' three, four and five spot hitters to shut down the second. 

His offense took over from there, putting up all four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Cortez Espinoza, Wright and junior Ryne Yamashiro got things going with back-to-back-to-back singles that just barely squeaked through the infield. Then bases loaded with one out, junior Matt Sciumbato worked a walk from Texas Lutheran's Dylan Murrell to put the Kingsmen's first run on the board. Next up to the plate, Pico crushed a ball to right center on an 0-2 pitch to clear the bases. 

Up 4-2, head coach Marty Slimak handed the ball over to his bullpen. Touching 89-mph on the radar gun, sophomore Zach Hardman allowed a leadoff single before inducing two groundouts to the third baseman and striking out Cullen Motsinger for the final out of the eighth. Senior Christian Slattery followed to close out the ninth with one of his best outings of the season – a perfect 1-2-3 inning and his fourth save of the year.    

As a whole, Cal Lutheran out-hit Texas Lutheran nine to five, led by Wright's second consecutive 3-for-4 game. The infielder currently leads the team, hitting .464 (13-for-28) in eight games with a .514 on-base percentage. 

The win over 2018's Division III World Series competitors moves the Kingsmen to 7-2 overall. The team returns to the field next week for a three-day slate against Drew (NJ) on March 5th and Greensboro on March 6th and 7th. First pitch for all-games is set for 2:30 p.m. PST.


Post-Game Interview: Junior Nick Pico and Sophomore Tanner Wright 

Box Score: CLU 4, TLU 2
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director