TUCSON, Ariz. — There were no somber faces Friday evening as the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen walked out of the Kino Sports Complex with the 4-1 victory over the Whitman Blues. Junior Matt Sciumbato came in clutch with runners in scoring position, sending home both the tying and go-ahead runs on day two of the Cactus Classic.
Donning the purple and gold uniform for the first time, senior Chris Kovach gave up just one run in his debut – a ground-rule double in the first from Tyler Lewis that brought home Whitman's lone score. The transfer from Oklahoma Baptist went on to concede just one hit in his next four shutout innings and finished the afternoon allowing just four hits and one walk in five innings of work while striking out seven.
His bullpen staff followed with four scoreless innings of their own to allow the offense to take the lead in the seventh inning. Relieving Kovach in the top of the sixth tied at one apiece, sophomore Zach Hardman did not allow the Blues to put a ball into play in his two innings of work and picked up three punchouts for the win decision.
Sophomore Clay Rickerman continued to hold things down in the eighth and junior Christian Slattery struck out his final two batters in the bottom of the ninth to close the game and earn his first save of the season.
Offensively, down by one heading into the third, Sciumbato doubled with two on to bring in junior Ryne Yamashiro for the tying run. Four innings later, the outfielder did it again with two on, this time scoring senior Anthony Sidley to put the Kingsmen up 2-1.
Next up to the plate, senior Kaden White knocked through a pinch-hit single to bring home junior Nick Pico for the insurance run. And just for good measure, sophomore Daniel Stauffer homered in the eighth to push the final score to 4-1.
The win moves Cal Lutheran to a 2-0 start to the season and a combined 12 scoreless innings from the bullpen. The Kingsmen are back in action tomorrow hoping to keep their streak alive against the Piedmont Lions at 6 p.m. MST inside the Kino Stadium.
Box Score: CLU 4, WHIT 1
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director