Kingsmen Comeback Halted by Bulldogs
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - A back-and-forth battle came down to the final inning on Friday afternoon at "Sparky" Anderson Field. Cal Lutheran trailed by four in the eighth and put the tying runner on base in the ninth, but fell short by an 8-7 margin to Redlands.
Box Score: UR 8, CLU 7 - F
A three-run eighth inning rally pulled the Kingsmen to within a single run heading into the bottom of the ninth. Redlands pitcher Brock Jacobo entered in the eighth and helped the Bulldogs avoid further damage. He stranded the game-tying run on base in the ninth to close out the game.
Early on it was hit-or-miss for the Redlands offense facing Cal Lutheran starter Byron Minnich. The Bulldogs went hitless in the first inning and Minnich retired the side in the minimum three pitches in the third.
However Redlands pieced together a couple of scoring rallies in the second and fourth innings totaling eight hits in the process. While the Bulldogs were scoring in pairs, the Kingsmen's ability to get the leadoff hitter on base paid dividends early on.
Cal Lutheran scored in each of the first four innings and leadoff men reached base safely in 7-of-9 plate appearances in all. The scoring would pick up for both teams in the later innings with the squads combining for 29 base hits.
Redlands collected four of its 15 hits from the least likely of sources. Heading into Friday's contest Eliot Smith was hitless in only five at bats this season. He finished the day going 4-for-5 at the plate and drove in four runs.
His sixth inning leadoff homer broke a 4-4 tie, and his two-run double the following inning gave the Bulldogs a 7-4 lead. A pinch hit RBI-single from Marcus Himelhoch later in the frame extended the margin to four runs.
The other Smith in action on Friday also had a big day. Cal Lutheran's Garrett Smith went 4-for-4 with an RBI at the plate. He beat out an infield single which led to the final Kingsmen run during a three-run, eighth inning rally.
Redlands starting pitcher Kyle Hart (3-1) wasted little time on the mound during his seven inning effort. He allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out four to earn the win. Cal Lutheran starter Byron Minnich (2-3) went five-plus innings and allowed five runs (four earned) and struck out four.
Cal Lutheran (11-5, 7-3 SCIAC) will play a road doubleheader against Redlands (7-8, 4-6 SCIAC) on Saturday, March 10, starting at 11 a.m.