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Cal Lutheran's Hitters Hound George Fox, 11-7

College baseball: Kingsmen get 20 hits and rally to win what was supposed to be a pitchers' duel.

May 19, 2000|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Texas — So much for the pitching duel.

Cal Lutheran collected 20 hits Thursday against three pitchers and still had to come from behind to upset George Fox, Ore., 11-7, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III West Regional baseball tournament at Southwestern University.

It was the seventh consecutive victory in regional games for the Kingsmen, dating to 1998.

It wasn't until reliever Scott Corneya finished the final 2 1/3 innings by striking out five of seven batters that Cal Lutheran regained control on the mound.

"If you had told me before the game began that it was going to end this way, I'd say it's not going to be that way," Coach Marty Slimak of Cal Lutheran said. "I guess the hitters just came to play."

George Fox collected 14 hits, including three by center fielder Jason Schilperoort, who pitched the final three innings and surrendered four runs on six hits.

Mark Torrey of Cal Lutheran, batting ninth, broke out of a batting slump by going four for four. He drove in three runs, scored twice, walked and stole a base.

Right-handed pitcher Tom Canale (11-2) survived long enough to pick up the victory for the Kingsmen (27-12), who advanced to a second-round game at 9 a.m. PDT today against Chapman, which beat beat Southwestern, 8-4.

It was anything but a stellar day on the mound for anyone except Corneya. By the time Corneya came on, 35 mph winds had given way to a hot and humid late afternoon.

"In terms of hitting, I thought that every time Canale made a mistake, we made him pay for it," Coach Pat Bailey of George Fox said. "We didn't play good defense and couldn't get it done in the end."

Top-seeded George Fox, making its first appearance in a Division III playoff after moving from the NAIA two seasons ago, came into the game with a 2.83 earned-run average, fifth-best in the nation, and a nine-game winning streak.

Bailey opted to start No. 2 pitcher Kess Romano (8-2) rather than Ryan Alvis (10-2).

"Ryan has better stuff, but Kess has been more consistent all year long," Bailey said. "But [Thursday], in terms of location, I thought it was the worst game Romano has thrown for us all year."

Romano had Cal Lutheran guessing early, and Canale struggled to find the mark. The Bruins took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning on a two-run home run by Kyle Langeliers.

Derek Birley's 10th home run of the season, a towering three-run drive over the left-field fence in the fifth gave the Bruins a 6-2 lead. Canale threw Birley a fastball in on his hands. He was trying to spot the ball off the plate, instead.

"[Canale] made some bad pitches," Slimak said. "He threw that pitch to Birley right into his wheelhouse and he's a guy you can't do that to."

Romano was living on the edge, too, and the Kingsmen knocked him out of the game in the sixth with four consecutive singles.

The Kingsmen tied the score on Tom Galante's grounder against Brody Wilson (2-2).

"We were really surprised to be down at that point," Galante said. "We talked about it and said we had to do what it took to come up big in the inning. We'd been talking about [this tournament] all week."

A double to open the seventh by first baseman Dan Loyd chased Wilson in favor Schilperoort, who surrendered a wind-blown double to left-field by Jason Claros.

Loyd took third and scored the go-ahead run on Schilperoort's wild pitch. Jim Stout followed with a double to the base of the center-field fence, driving in two more runs to make the score 9-6.

Torrey drove in a run with a single to right center and lead-off hitter Ryan Yoshiwara made it 11-6 with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Stout.

"I really didn't play attention to that slump," Torrey said. "Some days you see the ball better. I told myself to see the ball and to put it in play where it's pitched."

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