No. 7 BSC cruises past No. 18 Pacific Lutheran, 7-1, to clinch spot in NCAA South Regional title game

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DEMOREST, Ga.—Behind a stellar showing on the mound by senior Paul Caudill as well as a strong offensive effort, the No. 7 Birmingham-Southern baseball team defeated No. 18 Pacific Lutheran, 7-1, Friday evening to advance to the title game of the NCAA Division III South Regional, hosted by Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga.

The third-seeded Panthers moved to 37-11-1, and the second-seeded Lutes fell to 32-13 in the elimination game. PLU had previously beaten BSC yesterday to put the Panthers into the elimination bracket. BSC battled back today with a noon win to send top-seeded No. 6 Rhodes home, followed by tonight's victory to advance to the championship game tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. EDT. BSC will face the winner of a noon game tomorrow between PLU and fifth-seeded Emory. The winner of the regional will advance to the NCAA Division III World Series, May 22-26 in Appleton, Wis.

The Panthers' offense seemed to continue to improve throughout the night as they were held hit-less in only a single inning, tallying a total of 15 hits, nearly double their amount from the previous game of the day. The biggest innings of the game for BSC came in the fifth and eighth when they scored two and three runs respectively.

The two teams combined to leave 15 runners on base, with the Lutes accounting for just five of those as the Panthers' neutralized the Lutes' threat each time. Caudill (6-0) earned the win, tossing eight innings while conceding just four hits and a single run while striking out six.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third when Birmingham-Southern struck first, plating a single run on one hit and one error. Senior Jacob Mayfield singled up the middle scoring senior Brandon Marino, who reached on an error to begin the frame.

Pacific Lutheran answered in the top of the fourth with a lead-off double by Collin Nilson and a single by Tyler Thompson, with Nilson coming around to score on a fielder's choice with Ben Welch aboard at first. That was the lone score of the game for the Lutes though the offense would manage a total of five hits.

Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers broke through with the lead on a single through the right side by sophomore David Scott, scoring senior Sam Roberts. Scott's single was one of four hits in the inning as BSC scored a run on four hits and stranded two runners.

From that point on, it was all BSC, as the Panthers would tack on another pair of runs in the following frame, scoring two on three hits and once again leaving two on base in the fifth inning. Senior David Bourbonnais drove in a run while Scott picked up his second RBI of the day, those coming in back-to-back innings.

The crowd under the lights in Loudermilk Field would then see the Lutes go in order two innings in a row while the Panthers too went three-up, three down in that span. The Panthers would strike again, however, in the top of the eighth with three runs on three hits and a pair of errors to make it 7-1.

Junior Taylor McCracken earned an RBI on a single, but the two remaining scores of the game were unearned as the Lutes had two errors in the inning.

Scott paced the Panthers with his 3-for-4 game with a team-high two RBI, with Bourbonnais also going 3-for-4 with an RBI.