The University of Redlands baseball team faced the Cal Lutheran University Kingsmen in a battle between the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament's two undefeated squads early Saturday afternoon. While playing as the home team, the Bulldogs mustered two late-game runs but it was not enough, as they fell in a tough 3-4 decision. Immediately following the loss, Redlands quickly regrouped to square off against the Panthers of Chapman University in an elimination game of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. After holding onto a close 5-4 win yesterday against the Panthers, the Bulldogs broke out the bats and muscled 19 hits for 17 runs to take down Chapman by a final score of 17-8.
The day began with senior pitcher Michael Collins (Upland, CA) taking the pearl for the Maroon and Gray's second game of the tournament. Although he secured the first out, the Kingsmen added one run on three hits before Redlands got out of the inning. Collins turned it right around by fanning two batters in the top of the second. He went on to sit two batters in the third with a pair of punch-outs but Redlands struggled to provide him sufficient run support. The Bulldogs had at least one base-runner in each the third, fourth, and fifth inning, but never could quite pull the trigger for the score.
Cal Lutheran scored two runs on three hits in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 3-0. Junior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) made a heads-up play by throwing out the would-be base-stealer to catch the lead-off Kingsmen runner and limit the damage.
With one out in the bottom of that inning, senior center fielder Christian Conci (San Mateo, CA) blasted a single to right-center field. After another out, Aguilar drew the walk for two baserunners to create a potentially lucrative opportunity. Sophomore Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) ripped a base-hit through the left side to plate Conci and slowly chip away at the Maroon and Gray's deficit.
After the Bulldogs loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, the Kingsmen made a keen pitching change, which kept Redlands at bay for the time being.
With Collins still going strong in the eighth, he recorded a strikeout before his defense rolled up the double play for the last two outs.
Aguilar led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk. Moore then sent a deep double to center field, scoring Aguilar all the way from first for a 2-4 score. Although the Bulldogs had runners on first and second, Cal Lutheran made a great, heads-up double play to stymie Redlands' offensive momentum.
Junior hurler Adam Stead (Rialto, CA) took over pitching duties in the ninth and secured all three outs in order.
With time running out, the Bulldogs knew they had work to do. Junior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) led off the inning with a double to right center. He then tagged up and advanced to third on the subsequent fly ball. He repeated this effort as Conci sent a deep sacrifice fly to center field for a 3-4 score. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not muster any more baserunners, resulting in the tough one-run loss.
In the Bulldogs' nightcap, senior hurler John Keane (Clayton, CA) took to the mound for their third game of the tournament. Both teams' offenses got hot in the first inning, as each knocked six hits for four runs.
With the score tied at four, Keane regrouped and secured all three outs in the second inning, as highlighted by two looking strikeouts.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the second stanza by scoring two runs on two hits before adding another in the third for a 7-4 lead.
Fast-forward through five innings, the score was knotted at eight apiece. After Stead pitched one inning and freshman pitcher Austin Williams (Redlands, CA) pitched one-third of an inning, senior pitcher John White (Burbank, CA) was called in to handle the sixth. White was money from the mound, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Conci led off the bottom of the sixth with a massive home run for Redlands' 9-8 advantage. After two singles, runners sat on first and third for junior designated hitter Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA), who Gardiner reached on an unsuccessful fielder's choice for an RBI.
The Bulldogs put up one run in the seventh on a walk, a stolen base, a hit-by-pitch, and a wild pitch, but they weren't done yet. With two outs and the bases loaded, Gardiner stepped up to the plate and knocked a monster grand slam to right field to give Redlands a 15-8 lead.
White continued to dominate from the hill by sitting the Panthers in order in the eighth. In the bottom of that inning, walks and wild pitches plagued Chapman, as the Maroon and Gray added another run. With Conci on second, senior third basemen Christopher Scalisi (Woodland Hills, CA) laced a single to right field for the RBI and the Bulldogs' 17th and final run.
Although White gave up two hits in the top of the ninth, his defense backed him to snag all three outs and secure the massive 17-8 victory.
Conci ended the game by going 5-for-5 and scored four runs, while Scalisi went 3-for-6 with three RBI, and finally, Gardiner had a 2-for-5 showing for six RBI.
With this win, Redlands (27-15, 16-8 SCIAC) advances to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament final, on Sunday, May 7, at 11 a.m. against the undefeated hosts in Thousand Oaks. If the Bulldogs should win the opener, they would face the Kingsmen in the "if-necessary" game to fulfill the double-elimination format, with the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships on the line.