Point Loma Nazarene loses to North Greenville in NCAA Division II baseball championship game
The Sea Lions make it to the title round with a win Friday over Rollins but fall short in the evening’s final.
Point Loma Nazarene University took the field the evening of June 10 in what the Sea Lions hoped would be the first of a two-game series against North Greenville of South Carolina, concluding with a winner-take-all game Saturday, June 11, for the NCAA Division II baseball championship in Cary, N.C.
North Greenville had advanced to the tournament’s final round with three wins in three games, putting the Crusaders in the position of having two chances to win once and claim the crown. Point Loma Nazarene had lost earlier this week to Rollins.
But PLNU fell two runs short as North Greenville earned the championship with a 5-3 victory.
The Sea Lions, who finished 51-10 overall this season, became the third local baseball team in 12 seasons to be runner-up for the Division II title. UC San Diego finished second in 2010 and 2017.
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North Greenville (54-10) quieted the PLNU bats like few others this season. The Sea Lions stranded 11 runners over the game’s first seven innings, including one in scoring position in each inning but the first.
The Sea Lions trailed 2-1 through six innings, their only run coming when leadoff hitter Otto Kemp led off the fifth with his team-leading 17th home run.
It marked the 61st time in 61 games that Kemp reached base this season.
North Greenville scored a pair of runs (one earned) against PLNU starter Jack Gonzales (10-2) in the pitcher’s four innings of work.
The Crusaders got some breathing room in the seventh inning against PLNU’s bullpen, adding two runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth.
PLNU had a habit of rallying in the late innings this season, but somebody forgot to tell Crusaders reliever Nate Roof, who struck out the side in the eighth inning.
In the ninth, North Greenville had to go through the top of the Sea Lions’ order — Kemp, Scott Anderson and Baxter Halligan — to secure the title.
PLNU didn’t go down without a fight against Crusaders closer Tristen Hudson. Halligan hit a two-run homer to make it a two-run game.
But Hudson was able to retire the side and set off a celebration for the Crusaders.
Earlier in the day, Halligan (14-2) scattered four hits, struck out five and walked two over six shutout innings to win his school-record 14th game of the season with a 2-0 victory over Rollins that advanced the Sea Lions to the final round.