LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The No. 22 Cal Lutheran baseball team won three straight games in three days, capping it off with a 4-1 victory over No. 9 Occidental, to capture the Fourth Annual Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Baseball Tournament title and clinch an automatic berth to the 2016 NCAA Playoffs.
For the Kingsmen, it is their third SCIAC Postseason Tournament Championship in four years and the 14th time CLU will advance to the NCAA West Regionals.
Junior right-hander Marshall Pautsch was mystifying on the mound, shutting down the high-octane Tigers offense with a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven strong innings pitched. He allowed just one run in the seventh after six shutout innings and scattered four hits.
With Pautsch keeping the Occidental bats at bay, the Kingsmen looked to Gabe Gunter who was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs at the plate.
In the bottom of the third after a one-out walk to Davey Casciola and a sharply hit single to right field by Chad Clark, Gunter stepped up and doubled to right center to give the Kingsmen a 2-0 lead. After a line drive double to dead centerfield off the bat of Jimmy Jauregui moved Gunter to third, Ramsey Abushahla cashed him in with an RBI groundout.
With a 3-0 lead, Pautsch continued to mow down Tiger batters, striking out six in a row at one point from the end of the fourth to the beginning of the sixth inning.
Occidental was able to scrape across a run in the top of the seventh, but the Kingsmen responded with an RBI sac fly by Casciola to bring home Trey Saito, who led off the inning with a single to right.
Mitchell Shields pitched a scoreless eighth and Landry Kiyabu closed the door in the ninth to clinch the victory.
Riley James (6-3) picked up the loss after throwing all eight innings and allowing four runs, three earned, and walking two. Pautsch improved to 6-2 on the year.
Along with Gunter’s two hits, C. Clark went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and Jauregui, Abushahla and Saito each added one hit apiece.
Cal Lutheran (31-11) will head to Spokane, Wash. for the 2016 NCAA West Regionals hosted by Whitworth at Avista Stadium set to begin on May 18.