The Kingsmen came to life this past weekend as they played a series against the Occidental Tigers, who stood atop SCIAC. The Kingsmen pitching staff showed up in full force during this series, knowing they could take first place.
Cal Lutheran edged out the Tigers in game one on Friday by a score of 5-3, setting the tone for the rest of the series.
In the second game, junior Tyler Hebda pitched 8.2 innings, allowing only two runs. It was consistent play like Hebda’s that left the Kingsmen standing far above the Tigers, winning the game 10-3.
“Whenever I get out on the mound, no matter who the team is, I am just trying to keep the score close and give our team a chance to win. With the way our offense has performed as of late, it is easy to do that,” said Hebda. “Thanks to the offense, we are given a cushion of comfort as we pitch.”
Pitching staff members Scott Peters and Aaron Roth worked alongside the offense to complete a seven-hit shutout, as Cal Lutheran worked toward sweeping the Tigers in the third game.
“I worked really hard against Oxy to get strike one and get ahead so that I could dictate the at-bat. Location was huge this weekend and I felt that I was able to hit my spots really well,” said Roth. “After not pitching much last year, it feels great to help my team win and move into a first place spot. We just need to pitch like this every weekend.”
The Kingsmen fought hard in the early innings of each game to gain a quick lead against the heckling Tigers so that they would position themselves for first place. Assistant coach Pete Schmidt believes the hitters had great success due to the specific aspects of the game, worked on in previous practices.
“We’ve been practicing the two-strike approach, which basically means we are looking to protect the outside half of the plate and compete on the inside half. This will help us stay short and get two-strike hits when we need them,” said Schmidt. “This approach gives us the best chances to succeed, and we were able to prove that statement correct throughout this series.”
A successful team does not just fall on one player, so the Kingsmen knew they would need to work together in combination with pitching, offense and defense. With this deadly combination of intensity from three aspects of the sport, the Kingsmen got the job done in game three.
With all the offensive strength brought to this series, senior second baseman Garrett Smith, hit his first homerun of the season after blasting a ball over the right field fence.
Senior outfielder Kevin Leonard’s offensive skills were brought to life against the Tigers as he made various power plays.
“Hard work during the week helps my hitting continuously progress. I’ve always said if you practice hard, you will play hard and good things will happen,” he said.
Living proof of Leonard’s “practice hard, play hard” theory is sophomore catcher Spencer Dubois who has risen above his competition, bringing needed strength to behind the dish.
“I really look to maintain strong focus and intensity each and every game. When we play competitive teams like Occidental, it becomes especially important to maintain that mental edge, as a team and as an individual player. This helps us compete harder and tougher and in this series, we did,” said Dubois.
As a huge offensive and pitching attribute to the team, senior Jake Petersen looks forward to continuing this success with this special group.
“It has been such a great honor to be accepted and befriended both on and off the field here at Cal Lutheran. The fact that we have such a unique and powerful dynamic within the team that constantly contributes to our success is awesome,” said Petersen. “If we continue to execute getting ahead with strikes on the mound and getting things done at the plate, we will continue our success and make our fans proud.”
Fans who have been coming out for years are exponentially more excited now that the Kingsmen have positioned themselves for first place in SCIAC. Avid fan and student, Sean Miller, talks about some key players who have risen to the high level of college play and contributed to the team’s success.
“The young players on the team have really stepped up. Players like sophomores Scott Peters and CJ Picerni are out there working really hard to contribute to the team’s success. Alongside the sophomores are even younger players, like Matt Johnston and Davey Casciola, who are already playing at such a competitive college level right out of high school. It is impressive,” said Miller. “I am looking forward to seeing the team play against La Verne in April and I am confident that they will take the title this year, and they deserve it.”
With the already captivating season, the Kingsmen hope to continue with their success. Cal Lutheran (13-5-1, 9-3 SCIAC) now travels to Tucson, Ariz., to participate in the Tucson Invitational Tournament with the taste of victory still in their mouths. The Kingsmen open play with Wisconsin-Superior on Friday, March 22, at 2 p.m.
Published March 20, 2013