By Austin Walther
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- California Lutheran exploded with five runs in the fourth inning to defeat North Central 10-8 to reach the Division III Championship Series against Washington & Jefferson.
“This was a battle today,” California Lutheran head coach Marty Slimak said. “You just could not let your guard down at any time.”
North Central got a runner on from a one out walk to lead off the game and advanced to third on a stolen base and overthrow by the catcher. Jeremy Quade then came around to score on a two out single from Chris Hill to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.
|Miguel Salud has pitched in all three of Cal Lutheran's wins in the D-III College World Series.
By Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Jimmy Jauregui was one of five Cal Lutheran players that had two hits on the night.
The Kingsmen loaded the bases in their half of the first after two consecutive walks and a base hit that found a whole on the right side of the infield. Jimmy Jauregui drew the third walk of the inning to issue a run to tie the game at one. The second run came around when Brad Fullerton drove in Sing Todd.
“We have to be very selective on what we’re going to get,” Jauregui said. “We just wanted to get our pitch and if we got it, be aggressive and if we didn’t, lay off.”
After putting a Cardinal batter on in the second, Roberts retired the next three batters to end any threat to CLU’s lead.
The Cardinals tied the game in the third when Sing Fong found a whole on the left side of the infield which drove in Quade for his second run of the game.
“I was just looking at being aggressive early in the count,” Fong said. “I wanted to get something early in the count, luckily he threw me a fast and I turned on it.”
Jauregui reached base again with a single in the third and was knocked in by a sacrifice fly from Cheynne Giles to give Cal Lu the lead back at 3-2.
NCC answered back in the fourth with a long RBI double from leadoff man Michael Mateja to drive in Matt Southerland.
“It’s something that we talk about as a team,” Mathey said. “When you’re down, it’s always tough to come back, but our guys did battle.”
Max Weinstein reached based for the third time in the fourth and was knocked in by Jauregui with a two out double off the wall to break the tie once again.
The next batter in the inning, Weston Clark, drove in Todd and then Fullerton came up with an RBI single of his own to give Cal Lu a 6-3 lead in the fourth. The Kingsmen batted around when the ninth batter of the inning Trey Saito knocked in two more.
“We got some good pitches to hit and we capitalized,” Clark said. “That’s the biggest thing for us is just capitalizing on our opportunities and making the most of them.”
Slimak said he tells his players, just don’t miss it.
“You are going to get a pitch that you can actually drive or really jump on it,” Slimak said. “I think we did a great job in that inning, putting some hits together.”
The Cardinals came back in the top of the fifth to cut its deficit to three with a two-run shot to left center from Chris Hill.
“I had a 1-0 count and I was looking for a fast ball up,” Hill said. “He threw it and I made sure not to miss it. Carmody got on base and I wanted to keep it rolling.”
The homerun was enough to chase Roberts out of the game and make way for Troy Frazier who forced a double play two batters later to stop the damage.
Fullerton hit his second straight single and came around to score again when Saito knocked him in with one out in the sixth. The Kingsmen scored its tenth run of the game when Saito advanced on a balk and throwing error on an attempt to catch him stealing.
Frazier threw three scoreless innings for the Kingsmen, but the Cardinals got to him in the eighth with a one out RBI single from Nick Sotiros. Miguel Salud came on for his third appearance in as many days with runners on second and third.
The two runners from Frazier came around to score on a two RBI single from John Carmody to cut the Cardinals deficit to two. The Kingsmen then turned a four-six-three double play to preserve their 10-8 lead.
Salud came back in for the ninth and forced three consecutive ground outs to win the game for the Kingsmen.
For North Central, they end the season 31-18 and Mathey said he is very proud of his team and all the work they put in.
“It’s one of those bitter-sweet days,” North Central head coach Ed Mathey said. “You never like to see a season end, but this team has so much to celebrate about this season.”
As for Cal Lu, they will play on Monday at 3 p.m. to start the best of three Championship series against Washington and Jefferson.
Slimak said he can try and continue to guide his players, but there’s not a whole lot you can do anymore with them.
“There’s going to have to be some big-time step ups,” Slimak said. “People are just going to have to step up when you get to those games where it really matters.”