Point Loma Nazarene one win away from playing for NCAA Division II baseball title
Sea Lions produce an 11-3 win over Southern Arkansas.
Point Loma Nazarene University is the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division II baseball championship tournament.
That means the selection committee expected PLNU to be playing Saturday, June 11, for the national title at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
The Sea Lions are one win away from doing just that after an 11-3 victory over Southern Arkansas on June 6.
They opened the tournament June 4 with an 8-1 win over Illinois Springfield.
The Sea Lions beat Illinois Springfield 8-1 as they make their tournament debut.
PLNU now awaits the winner of an elimination game Wednesday, June 8, between Southern Arkansas (47-12) and Rollins (41-16).
The Sea Lions (50-8) will return to the field at 10:30 a.m. PDT Thursday, June 9, for the bracket finale. Win and they play for the championship. Lose and they get another shot to get there Friday, June 10, in the double-elimination tournament.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said PLNU head coach Justin James, who was pitching coach at UC San Diego in 2017 when the Tritons played for the Division II national championship. “I really can’t describe just how tough they are. It’s great.
“That team was starting to hit the ball around the park a little bit, but our pitchers, they don’t freak out. ... You can tell because there was only one walk. Usually when people start to get scared, those walks start to pile up a little bit. This pitching staff has done that well [avoid walks] all year long.”
PLNU took command early, scoring four runs in the second inning — highlighted by shortstop Scott Anderson’s two-run double — for a 4-0 lead.
“That’s just what our offense has been doing all year,” said PLNU catcher Easton Waterman, who had a game-high four hits. “We feed off each other’s energy really well. All it takes is one guy to get it going. Once that happens, it’s scary.”
Southern Arkansas rallied for two runs in the third inning against PLNU starting pitcher Jack Gonzales (10-1), but that’s as close as the Muleriders would get.
First baseman Jakob Christian hit PLNU’s first home run of the tournament leading off the fifth inning for a 5-2 lead.
The Sea Lions broke open a 6-3 game with a five-run ninth, capped by Hunter Otjen’s three-run double.