The members of the Cal Lutheran baseball team are so confident that even losing doesn't bother them.
Just after the Kingsmen lost, 10-7, to UC San Diego in the third game of the NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday, the players were still all smiles.
"We're going to go out and win it tomorrow," third baseman Scott Sebbo said. "We haven't lost confidence one bit."
Cal Lutheran can afford such talk because Marc Weiss pitched a three-hitter in an 11-0 victory over the Tritons earlier Saturday at UC San Diego.
The Kingsmen (31-7-1) have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series that determines the West's representative in the eight-team Division III championships next week in Battle Creek, Mich. The series continues at noon today.
"We're still in the driver's seat," Sebbo said. "One more (victory) and we've got it."
Seventh-ranked Cal Lutheran, gunning for its third consecutive appearance at the Division III championships, rallied but fell short in an attempt to end the series Saturday.
The Kingsmen fell behind, 7-1, after two innings, but they chipped away and pulled to within 9-6 on Sebbo's two-run home run in the seventh.
Trailing, 10-7, in the ninth, the Kingsmen loaded the bases with two out for John Becker, the hottest hitter on the team. Becker has nine runs batted in and three home runs in the series, but he popped up to shallow left field against closer Kurt Luhrsen.
"No one was upset (that Becker flied out)," Sebbo said. "He's been carrying us. He'll be the one who will win it for us."
Becker hit his 12th and 13th home runs of the season in the first game and barely missed another in the second game.
"He's just seeing cantaloupes now instead of baseballs," Cal Lutheran Coach Marty Slimak said.
Sebbo was also hot Saturday. He was four for five in the first game and two for five with three RBIs in the second.
But all the Cal Lutheran offense in Saturday's first game was more or less academic. The Kingsmen hardly needed it with Weiss on the mound.
Recovering from back problems and a 6.51 earned-run average in his last three starts, Weiss pitched his third shutout of the season.
Weiss (10-1) gave up three singles and four walks. He struck out six and retired 15 batters on ground balls.
"I really felt good," Weiss said. "I was hitting my spots and my adrenaline was pumping."
It was the second excellent performance in the series by a Cal Lutheran pitcher. Sam Arroyo pitched a complete game in a 5-3 victory in the series opener Friday.
"That's what you've got to have to win a tournament--great pitching," Slimak said. "We did in the first game and we didn't in the second game."
The Kingsmen were down to No. 3 starter David Jaglowski for Saturday's second game. Jaglowski (5-2) lasted only 1 2/3 innings and he gave up seven runs, three on left fielder Craig Birk's second home run of the series.
The question for both teams heading into today's play is: Who's left to pitch?
The fourth-ranked Tritons (29-6) will start sophomore right-hander Marc Abrams, who is 3-1 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts. Cal Lutheran will counter with junior left-hander Kevin Koschik, who is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of relief.