SANTA CLARITA, Calif.—The San Diego Christian College baseball team's season came to a close on Saturday, just short of a coveted birth to the NAIA College World Series. The Hawks defeated Tabor College (Kan.) 9-7 in 10 innings in an elimination game, before falling to top-seeded The Master's College 11-7 in the championship game of the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.
The Hawks end their historic season with a school record 39 wins.
The Hawks (39-20) took an early advantage in game one, scoring single runs in the first and second innings. Cade Gotta led the game off with a double and Chad Erickson brought him home in the first. In the second, Jeff Lusardi walked to lead off the inning, and Gilbert Viera singled home Lusardi to make it a 2-0 game.
The Blue Jays struck for a pair of runs on RBIs from Troy Torres and Paul Sciacca to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third inning.
With one out in the third, Gotta and Garrison McLagan singled and Erickson brought both home on a double. After a second out, Lusardi singled home Erickson to give the Hawks a 5-2 advantage.
Tabor came right back with a single run in the bottom of the third, and a pair of runs in the fourth to tie the game at 5-5.
SDCC would again take the lead in the top of the seventh. McLagan singled and Erickson walked, leading to a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Eichhorst to move the runners up one base. Lusardi then delivered a single up the middle to score both and give the Hawks a 7-5 lead.
The Blue Jays continued to fight, scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it a 7-6 game heading into the ninth.
After the Hawks were retired in their portion of the frame, Tabor was able to tie the game on a two-out RBI single from Wes Moody, bringing home Art Corona who had walked and stole second. The Blue Jays eventually loaded the bases, but SDCC pitcher Tyler Sanborn induced a pop up to end the threat.
SDCC would take the lead for good in the top of the tenth. With one out, Mann and Viera had consecutive singles. Peter Hoyt then tripled home both runners to push the Hawks in front 9-7.
Again, Tabor would not give up. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out, giving way to David Johnson out of the SDCC bullpen. Johnson calmly struck out the following two hitters to move the Hawks into the championship game.
Jesse Hernandez started the game for SDCC and went 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) and striking out two. Brock Heerdt relieved Hernandez, going 4.1 innings and giving up one run on three hits and collecting four strikeouts. Sanborn (8-2) earned the win, tossing .1 innings. Jeff Gogue appeared briefly for the Hawks in the 10th, before Johnson entered to collect his third save of the year.
SDCC pounded 14 hits, led by Gotta's three. McLagan, Lusardi, and Viera had a pair of hits, while Erickson and Lusardi had three RBIs each.
The Hawks continued where they left off in the second game, jumping on top of The Master's College and pitcher Andrew Klausmeier. Klausmeier, who entered the game ranked fourth in the NAIA in total runs allowed with 12, was facing SDCC for the third time this season.
In the top of the second inning, the Hawks would take the lead. Eichhorst singled to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Lusardi. After the second out, Viera and Hoyt reached on consecutive walks to load the bases. Christian Johnson, Gotta, and McLagan all singled to bring across four runs to give SDCC a 4-0 in the second.
SDCC starter Nick Greene cruised through the first four innings, not allowing a hit and only one baserunner. The Mustangs, however, finally got on the board in the fifth. After a single, a walk, and an error brought in one run, James Scott launched a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall to tie the game at 4-4.
TMC added a single run in the sixth before stretching their lead out with a five-run seventh inning to take a 10-4 lead into the eighth.
In true SDCC fashion, the Hawks kept fighting. Lusardi homered in the top of the eighth and the Hawks added two more runs in the top of the ninth, but SDCC was unable to overcome the deficit and TMC advanced to the College World Series.
SDCC outhit TMC, 11-10 led by Eichhorst and Christian Johnson with three hits each.
Klausmeier (6-1) earned the win, tossing six innings before giving way to Tommy Kister, who earned his ninth save of the season.
Greene (7-5) suffered the loss, going 5.2 innings, allowing five runs (only one earned) on three hits and striking out one.
Despite the loss, SDCC advanced further than any other team in program history.
TMC will be representing the GSAC in the CWS on May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho. For more information on the CWS, click here.