REDLANDS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran Kingsmen bared down to win a gritty 6-5 ballgame over the Redlands Bulldogs. And though six different Kingsmen stepped up to send bring a man across the plate, the defensive game proved to be deciding factor in Friday's road victory.
Leading the 14-hit outing, senior Anthony Sidley went 4-for-5 at the plate with an RBI, his second four-hit performance in the last three games. Joining him, sophomores Tanner Wright and Daniel Parr added three-hit games of their own with an RBI apiece.
On the mound, senior Justin Fong claimed his sixth win of the year, pitching 6.2 innings of four-run ball while notching eight strikeouts. Relieving him, sophomores Clay Rickerman and Zach Hardman combined for 1.1 frames, before handing the ball over to junior Christian Slattery in ninth who picks up his conference-leading eighth save.
Offensively, Wright and Sidley knocked consecutive RBI singles in the third to give Cal Lutheran the early 2-0 lead. They kept the lead there through the bottom half of the inning, in part to a snow cone snag by senior Trevor Egan, making a quick jump to his right to save Fong of a base hit.
However, the Bulldogs got their turn in the fifth with RBIs from the top of their lineup to knot things up at 2-2. The tie was short lived though as junior Cortez Espinoza robbed Eduardo Martinez-Razo of an extra-base hit in the sixth with a diving grab on the Redland's right field hill to end the inning and give the Kingsmen the chance to go ahead seventh.
His team did just that, loading the bases with no-outs and converting the opportunity for three runs. Senior Weston Clark brought the first run home with a grounder to short, Parr followed with a single up the middle and Cortez rounding things out with a fielder's choice.
But once again, the Bulldogs cut things close, bringing themselves within one run 5-4 with a two-RBI double with two outs in the seventh. The back and forth continued into the eighth as junior Ryan Probst pushed the Kingsmen's lead to two with a knock up the middle.
On the other hand, the Cal Lutheran defense found themselves with a bases-loaded no-out jam in the eighth. With tensions high, Trevor Smith scored a run on a deep sacrifice fly to left to make it a 6-5 ballgame and move runners into scoring position. Next batter up, though, seemed like another sacrifice fly from Payton Walsh, but instead, Parr saved the day with a rocket from right field to also get the tying run out at the plate.
Unable to get an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Slattery then took the mound for the Kingsmen to close the one-run ballgame. And collecting his eighth save on the year, he got the job done with two strikeouts – swinging – and foul pop-up to first.
The 6-5 victory moves Cal Lutheran to 21-11 on the year and 10-6 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Looking for the series victory, the Kingsmen return to Sparky Anderson field, tomorrow, for a double header (11 a.m./2 p.m.) against Redlands.
Box Score: CLU 6, UR 5
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director