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Kingsmen Lose Grip Again, 6-5

Baseball: With title in grasp, Cal Lutheran lets William Paterson steal it away with five-run eighth.

May 30, 1996|From Staff and Wire Reports

SALEM, Va. — The Cal Lutheran baseball team is officially twice bitten and once shy.

Cal Lutheran fell one game short of the national title for the second time in five years, when it lost to William Paterson College, 6-5, in the NCAA Division III final Wednesday.

Cal Lutheran led, 5-1, heading into the eighth and was cruising behind a strong pitching performance from Erik Kiszczak (9-3).

And then the curse struck.

William Paterson's Mark DeMenna hit a three-run homer and Brian Kelly scored the winning run later in the inning when he slid around the tag of catcher Tom McGee as the Pioneers (39-5-1) scored five times.

"I felt [Kiszczak] was still throwing well," Cal Lutheran Coach Marty Slimak said. "He and several other guys were the ones that got us here."

Kiszczak went 7 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs.

Cal Lutheran tried to rally in the ninth.

Sean Smith tagged up on a fly ball to right field and with two out represented the potential tying run at second base.

But Cal Lutheran's dream season ended with a recurring nightmare when Adam Rauch's line drive to second base ended the game.

In 1992, William Paterson rallied for a dramatic 3-1 victory over the Kingsmen in the championship game with a three-run home run with one out in the ninth.

Both of William Paterson's national titles have come at the expense of Cal Lutheran.

Cal Lutheran mustered three runs in the first inning when McGee tripled home a run and scored on a single by Robert Nichols.

Mike Young, who was hit by a pitch and took third on Nichols' hit, stole home to make it 3-0.

The Kingsmen added two runs in the fifth for their 5-1 lead.

"We felt all along this was our day," Slimak said. "Every day since we got here we thought we could win."

For eight innings it appeared that way.

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