Top-ranked Cal Lutheran's standout pitching staff is poised for a best-of-five West Regional series against Redlands that starts today at 2:30 p.m. at Moorpark College with a berth in the Division III World Series in the balance.
Cal Lutheran and Redlands will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon. If necessary, a doubleheader is scheduled for Sunday at noon.
The winner--along with champions from seven other regionals involving 30 teams--advances to a double-elimination World Series on May 27-June 1 at Albion College in Battle Creek, Mich. The Kingsmen advanced to the national championship game last season, losing to William Paterson College, 3-1.
Led by its senior-dominated pitching staff, Cal Lutheran (29-7) won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title with a 19-2 record and was ranked first in the final regular-season Division III poll. Seniors Jeff Berman, Mike Winslow and Pat Norville formed the SCIAC's top starting threesome.
The right-handed Berman, who is expected to start Game 1, paced the Kingsmen in almost every category. He went 8-2-1 with a 1.66 earned-run average and struck out 66 in 76 innings. Berman had three shutouts.
Winslow, also a right-hander, was not far behind. He had the team's best winning percentage at 7-0 and a 2.00 ERA. He totaled 40 strikeouts in 54 innings.
Norville is the group's lone lefty. He went 7-1 with a 3.10 ERA and was second in strikeouts with 47 and innings with 61.
Senior right-hander Louis Birdt provides relief. He led the team with two saves and had 19 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Cal Lutheran does the job on offense too.
Senior outfielder Eric Johnson batted .431 with a team-high 36 runs batted in. Senior infielder Joe Cascione batted .376 with 31 RBIs.
The Bulldogs (20-16, 15-6 in conference play) were SCIAC runners-up. During a three-game series in April, Cal Lutheran lost the opener at home to Redlands, 4-2, and won a doubleheader at Redlands, 5-2 and 21-12.
Redlands set a school record with a .365 batting average. The Bulldogs are sparked by sophomore outfielder and leadoff hitter Chad Freese.
Freese has team-leading numbers in batting (.420), on-base percentage (.500) and triples (seven). Senior infielder/designated hitter Marc DiCarlo (.394, eight homers, 41 RBIs) provides power.
The Bulldogs lead with starting left-handers Vennie Henderson (6-3, 4.02 ERA), a junior, and freshman Scott Sasser (6-3, 4.69 ERA).
The Kingsmen enter the tournament on a three-game winning streak. Redlands lost its final two regular-season games.