California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Three-peat Chance Spoiled by Leopards

    On May 1-3, the California Lutheran University men’s baseball team played in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament at George “Sparky” Anderson Field inside of Ullman Stadium.

    Kyle Sanchez led the Kingsmen offense over the weekend, going 12-for-20 with six RBIs during the SCIAC Tournament.
    Kyle Sanchez led the Kingsmen offense over the weekend, going 12-for-20 with six RBIs during the SCIAC Tournament. Photo courtesy of Tracy Maple – Sports Information Director

    The Kingsmen were seeking to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament for the third straight year but unfortunately they lost in the final game, and their hopes of a regional berth lies in the hands of the selection committee.

    In Game 1 on May 1, the Kingsmen got off to a slow start in the tournament in a blowout loss to the LaVerne Leopards, 12-3.

    The first inning started scoreless, but things picked up in the second inning when the Kingsmen got three straight hits from Davey Casciola, Collin Crowl and Max Price. The Kingsmen finally got on the board when Nico Filice had an RBI walk to bring in a runner. The Kingsmen also managed to score another run despite hitting into a double play.

    The Kingsmen were not able to hold on to their early lead, as the Leopards scored 12 unanswered runs, capitalizing on errors and walks by the Kingsmen.

    Kingsmen starting pitcher Scott Peters went five innings, giving up five runs while striking out six and walking three. He was tagged for his third loss of the season.

    Eight of the nine Kingsmen hits came from Ramsey Abushahla, Casciola, Crowl and Justin Caña, according to Casciola also hit his first homerun of the season in the bottom of the eighth inning.

    On the second day of the tournament, May 2, the Kingsmen looked to bounce back from the LaVerne loss as they faced the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens in an elimination game. Cal Lutheran came out strong with the win, with a final score of 10-0. Before the game, head coach Marty Slimak said he looked to see improvement from the game before.

    “We have to get better with all three aspects of what we didn’t do yesterday. We need to pitch better and play a lot better defense. We have to hit when we have runners in scoring position and we just did not do that yesterday,” Slimak said.

    The Kingsmen took his advice while facing elimination and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. They never looked back.

    Starting pitcher Trey Saito picked up his team-leading seventh win of the season, throwing six scoreless innings while striking out five. The Kingsmen bullpen was solid as well, with scoreless innings from Evan Peterson and Tyler Nevins.

    Overall the Kingsmen tallied 12 hits and Abushahla went 3-for-3 with a walk, three RBIs and a run. Caña, Casciola and Kyle Sanchez all had two hits a piece.

    In day three the Kingsmen faced a familiar foe, taking on La Verne once again on May 3. The Kingsmen won the first game 14-0, setting up a winner-take-all game two. Despite taking a 2-0 lead in the first two innings, the Kingsmen fell to the Leopards 4-2, and La Verne earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.

    In game one the Kingsmen bats were hot, especially Caña’s, who went 3-for-6 with three RBIs.

    “I was seeing the ball well and was really focusing to put a good swing on the pitch I was looking for. It’s nice to get the first hit out of the way in your first at bat, it kind of sets up confidence for the at bats in the rest of the game and makes you feel comfortable,” Caña said.

    Kingsmen pitcher Nate Wehner also had a good performance where he improved to 2-0 in his second career start going seven innings with three hits, which all came in the first two innings according to

    In the top of the eighth the Kingsmen turned it up as Jeff Robello brought home Sinjin Todd who replaced Gunter as a pinch runner and Caña drove in another run himself to bump the lead to 4-0. Caña then stole second base and two pitches later Spencer DuBois singled to centerfield scoring another run for the Kingsmen. In the very same inning the Kingsmen managed to score more runs off a wild pitch and Todd also brought in two more runners as the Kingsmen finished the inning scoring six runs.

    “On offense we look to get the leadoff guy on and really emphasize battling at the plate. We were able to come up big in the innings we scored in and most runs were with two outs. We were able to string along a few hits in a row with runners on and really trusted the person behind us,” Caña said.

    In the top of the ninth the Kingsmen bats continued to stay hot as they scored five more runs. Connor Sipes then was able to close the game in the next inning although the Leopards had runners in scoring position.

    In the championship game Sanchez drove in the first run of the game after Caña led the game off with a single. In the second the Kingsmen pushed the lead to 2-0 when Rebello singled and scored off of Sanchez’s RBI hit. The Kingsmen however managed to strand three runners so they were unable to push the lead.

    “We had a few opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, but for the most part we played a very good game,” Caña said.

    In the next inning the Leopards got on the board making the score 2-1. Landry Kiyabu, normally the closer for the Kingsmen, started the game and went 4.2 innings with three strikeouts until he was replaced by Peters coming out of the bullpen.

    In the top of the seventh the Leopards took control where they gained advantage of the lead scoring three runs making the score 4-2. In the final two innings both teams were unable to score as the Leopards closed the Kingsmen out by keeping them scoreless.

    Cal Lutheran (32-12) left 10 men on base, which proved to be the deciding factor in the loss. The Kingsmen now await their fate to see if they can get into the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament.

    “When it comes to playoff baseball, it shows which team wants it the most. If we make it we have to come out to each game as if it were our last,” Saito said.


    Randall Shumpert
    Staff Writer
    Published May 6th, 2015