Redlands Baseball Downs Defending National Champion Cal Lutheran, 11-2

Felix Minjarez recorded the win against the defending national champions.
Photo credit: Karlyn Scheiwe

In order to avoid inclement weather, the University of Redlands baseball team hosted the 10th-ranked Cal Lutheran University Kingsmen at the Yard for an earlier-than-usual, 1 p.m. start. Behind stellar pitching, the Bulldogs defeated the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foes and defending national champions by an impressive score of 11-2.

After a quick top of the first, thanks to senior pitcher Felix Minjarez (Riverside, CA), senior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) led off the bottom of the frame with a single through the right side. He subsequently stole second and advanced to third on an error. Junior first basemen Brenden Moore (Murrieta, CA) struck a hard sacrifice fly to plate Hall for the early lead.

With a run on the board, Minjarez returned to the bump with new energy.  He sat the next six Kingsmen in order in the second and third innings, as highlighted by three strikeouts.

In the bottom of the third, senior third basemen Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) got things started with a double to left field. Senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) immediately traded places with him for the 2-0 Bulldog advantage. Due to singles off the bats of junior shortstop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA), senior center fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA), and first-year right fielder Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA), along with a hefty CLU error, Redlands put up four more runs to stretch the lead.

The Maroon and Gray defense recorded all three put-outs in the top of the fourth, with Aguilar firing a cannon of a throw to catch the runner stealing for the final out.

The home team added a run in the bottom of the fourth on three hits.

In the sixth, with senior designated hitter Jordan Babbitt (Highland, CA) on third and Kabeary on second, senior left fielder Nick Ono (Yorba Linda, CA) blasted a sacrifice fly to right for the RBI. After advancing to third on the sacrifice, Kabeary used his quick reflexes, awareness, and speed to subsequently score on a passed ball.

After a stellar pitching performance from Minjarez that included seven strikeouts in 7.2 innings of work, sophomore hurler Austin Williams (Redlands, CA) climbed the hill in the top of the eighth with a 9-1 lead. After an RBI-single, Williams recorded a punch-out to put his team back on offense in the bottom of the eighth.

Redlands kept up the pressure, as Bridges stepped into the box with the bases juiced and one out in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a screamer to the 3-4 hole for an RBI. Ono continued the scoring by sending another RBI-sacrifice fly to deep center-field that plated Babbitt from third for the 11-2 advantage.

First-year pitcher Nick Hammel (San Diego, CA) was called in to close out the game. Hammel struck out the first batter, threw a routine fly ball, and scurried over to first for a 3-1 putout to secure the huge SCIAC victory.

Babbitt went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, while quite a few more Bulldogs registered a multi-hit, multi-RBI day.

Redlands (8-3, 5-2 SCIAC) heads to Thousand Oaks tomorrow, March 3, for a SCIAC doubleheader against the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen. Game times are slotted for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.