THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Cal Lutheran baseball team dropped the first game of a doubleheader with No. 5 Whitworth 13-8 before finishing with its first tie in five seasons as a 7-7 game was called after the ninth inning due to darkness.
Cal Lutheran enjoyed a strong day at the plate, collecting 10 hits including two triples and a homerun but Whitworth leftfielder Tyler Pfeffer went 5-for-5 with four RBIs as the Pirates slugged 16 hits in the game one victory over CLU.
Whitworth got the first run of the game in the first inning when Jeremy Druffel led off with a single, stole second then later stole third inducing a throw down to third base. The CLU throw would bounce into left field and allowed Druffel to score.
Cal Lutheran had a scoring chance of its own in the bottom of the first when Garrett Smith reached on a single. The next batter, Trevor Koons, doubled down the left field line but Smith was cut down at the plate on the relay throw from the left fielder.
The Pirates broke the game open in the top of the fourth when Erik Nikssarian doubled in Jordan Pearson from second. Whitworth piled on another run when Gerhard Muelheims singled into right field and Nikssarian just beat a strong throw to the plate from CLU right fielder Mike Vinyard. Left fielder Tyler Pfeffer later laced a single into right field that drove in Muelheims, increasing the Pirates lead to 5-0.
Whitworth kept the inning going with their fifth hit of the inning when Josh Davis had a seeing-eye single up the middle, allowing Pfeffer to score from second and extending the Pirate lead to 6-0.
However, Cal Lutheran responded with a four-run inning of its own in the bottom half of the fourth. With runners on first and second, Nicho DellaValle got things started when he hit a line-drive that was just over the reach of the Pirate second basemen, scoring Nick Boggan from second base.
During the next at-bat, Nick DeLorenzo launched a two-run triple over the center fielder’s head and scored DellaValle and Jake Petersen. As DeLorenzo was sliding into third, the throw got away from the Pirate third basemen, allowing the senior to run home and cut the Whitworth lead to 6-4.
Cal Lutheran threated again in the bottom of the fifth when Petersen singled and DellaValle reached on error but the Pirates got a nice catch from Nikssarian after he tracked down a long fly ball off the bat of DeLorenzo to end the inning.
The Pirates increased their lead to 9-4 in the top of the sixth after Pfeffer notched his fourth hit of the game and the CLU right fielder was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing two runners to score. Jordan Liu would follow that with a single of his own, driving in Pfeffer and giving Whitworth a five run cushion.
CLU would add a run in the eighth when Atherton Kniseley was hit by a pitch in his first collegiate at-bat and then scored a ground out from C.J. Picerni.
Whitworth tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the ninth including an RBI double from Pfeffer completing his five-hit, four RBI performance.
The Kingsmen made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth when Davey Casciola doubled in his first collegiate at-bat. Boggan then stepped in and blasted a two-run homerun deep to center field. Petersen followed that with a triple but Whitworth reliever Matt Renner got DeLorenzo to line-out to end the game.
In addition to five hits from Pfeffer, the Pirates got multi-hit games from Druffel, Muelheims, Davis, and Nikssarian.
Petersen led the Kingsmen at the plate going 3-for-5. Boggan and DeLorenzo both had two RBIs while DellaValle knocked in one.
Starting pitcher Carson Blumenthal got the win for Whitworth, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out six.
Tyler Hedba (0-1), the CLU starting pitcher, took the loss after pitching 3.2 innings and allowing four earned runs while freshmen Morgan Garcia-Grisham made his collegiate debut in the sixth inning and Mitchell Shields made his first career appearance in the ninth.
Despite allowing four hits in the top of the first inning to start the second game, CLU starting pitcher Scott Peters and Cal Lutheran surrendered only one run and later tied it the bottom half of the inning when Petersen came home on a fielder’s choice.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, DeLorenzo sent the first pitch of his at-bat over the right field wall for a solo shot, pulling CLU even at 2-2.
Pfeffer continued his strong day at the plate by connecting on a three-run homerun in the top of the fifth inning and giving Whitworth the lead back at 5-2.
Cal Lutheran would show resolve and begin a comeback in the bottom of the fifth. Gasciola led off the inning with a single to right field and was later brought in after a double from Koons that one-hopped the wall. Koons then came in on a single from Boggan and pulled CLU to within one at 5-4. Two batters later, DeLorenzo tied the game at 5-5 after knocking a double off the right field fence, driving in Boggan.
Whitworth retook the lead in the top of the sixth after a perfectly executed bunt single by Muelheims that allowed Blake Thoren to score. CLU then brought in closer Aaron Roth and the junior stopped the Pirate rally by getting Pfeffer to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Cal Lutheran first got a lead-off single from DeLorenzo and Kevin Leonard followed that with a double down the right field line. Ronnie Burton would drive DeLorenzo in on a groundout to the second basemen, pulling CLU to within one at 7-6. Two pitches later, Vinyard, who pinch ran for Picerni, scored the tying run on a passed ball, knotting the teams at 7-7.
Both teams were unable to score a run in the final inning and the umpires were forced to call the game a 7-7 tie due to darkness.
DeLorenzo led the Kingsmen offensively going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double at three RBIs. Koons knocked two doubles and had one RBI while Petersen had his second multi-hit game of the day. Ramsey Abushahla went 1-for-2 in his collegiate debut and Gasciola went 1-for-4 in his first start for the Kingsmen.
Peters pitched four innings for CLU, giving up five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts while Roth came on for the final 3.2 innings, allowing just one hit.
Pfeffer again led Whitworth in the night-cap going 2-for-5 with four RBIs while Danny Jordan and Druffel each added three hits apiece.