Tyler, TX - The Cal Lutheran baseball advanced to the Division III College World Series for the first time since 1999 with a 9-7 victory over Concordia Texas on Sunday afternoon. This will mark the sixth time the Kingsmen have made an appearance at the World Series.
Early morning thunderstorms postponed the original start time by four hours and forced a location change to Mike Carter Field, an all turf field home to the Tyler Junior College baseball team. The Tornados jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after piecing together three singles in the opening frame.
CLU responded with a pair of runs in the second to even the score on RBIs from Trey Saito and Austin Kay but Concordia struck again with two more runs in the third to go up 4-2.
In the bottom half of the inning, Saito and Max Weinstein singled to put two runners on and Todd came up clutch yet again with an RBI single to center. On the very next pitch, Gabe Gunter drove a ball deep over the 20-foot high wall in right field for a three-run homerun to give the Kingsmen a 6-4 lead.
CLU continued to pour it on in the fifth inning with three more runs after starting the inning with four straight singles. Cheynne Giles led things off with a single to right while Saito and Kay came through with crafty bunt singles to load the bases. Weinstein proceeded to drive home Giles while Todd drove in Saito on a sac fly and Kay came around on a wild pitch to put the Kingsmen ahead 9-4.
The Tornados made it interesting with three runs in the seventh to make it a 9-7 ball game and loaded the bases in the ninth, but the Kingsmen were able to slam the door and clinch the championship.
Marshall Pautsch (9-2) started the game on short rest and went five innings, scattering nine hits while giving up four runs and striking out three. Nate Wehner, meanwhile, struck out six in his 3.2 innings of relief, including striking out the side in a crucial eighth inning. In a critical situation with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, Miguel Salud earned his 11th save after getting the final batter to ground out to Weston Clark at first base.
Cal Lutheran (35-10) will head to Appleton, Wisc. for the 2017 NCAA Division III College World Series set to begin Friday, May 26 and go through Wednesday, May 31. The Kingsmen finished third in 1999, and have two runner-up finishes coming in 1992 and 1996.