|Cal Lutheran photo by Tracy L. Olson|
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – With a 3-2 victory over Redlands on Sunday afternoon at Ullman Stadium, the No. 19 Cal Lutheran baseball team captured its fourth Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament Championship in five years, and with it secured a spot in the NCAA Division III Regionals.
After clinching its fifth consecutive regular season SCIAC title last weekend, and 14th in program history, CLU will make its 15th NCAA Regional appearance and fourth in the past five seasons. After defeating La Verne on Friday 6-2, the Kingsmen needed a pair of one-run victories against Redlands to sweep the tournament competition for the second straight season.
CLU jumped out to an early lead in the second after Weston Clark led off with a single to right and came around to score on an RBI single by Cheynne Giles. With two outs, Austin Kay drove a ball deep to left but was robbed of extra bases and an RBI after the Bulldogs leftfielder made a diving catch on the run.
Looking to add some insurance runs to a narrow 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth, Gabe Gunter and Jimmy Jauregui strung together back-to-back singles before Clark came through with an RBI single that just skipped past the Bulldogs diving second basemen.
Freshman pitcher Scott Roberts was calm, cool, and collected on the big stage for the Violet and Gold and pitched six scoreless with four strikeouts before Redlands mounted a rally. Trailing 2-0, the Bulldogs scraped across two runs to tie the game on four hits in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Giles led off with a single and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Trey Saito. With the Kingsmen threatening, Max Weinstein laced one deep to right but another highlight defensive play from the Bulldogs preserved the tie.
Brad Fullerton responded with a diving catch of his own to start the eighth inning, but Jeff Rebello stole the thunder after coming out of the bullpen and inducing a critical double play to get the Kingsmen out of a jam.
In the bottom half of the eighth, Redlands countered with ace Felix Minjarez, but a leadoff walk to Sinjin Todd proved costly for the Bulldogs as Clark ripped a single up the middle later in the inning and Todd raced around to score the game-winning run.
Rebello stayed in the game in the ninth and closed the door to pick up his third win of the year.
Clark went 3-for-3 with two RBIs to pace the Kingsmen at the plate and Giles collected two hits at the dish.
Minjarez (12-2) was handed the loss while Redlands starter Noah Jones allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings.
Cal Lutheran (31-10) will await its regional site destination when the NCAA Selection Show airs next Sunday, May 14 at a time to be determined.