LMU Claims Lion's Share of WCC Championship
LMU earned a share of the WCC Championship on Sunday with a win at Portland.
Needing a victory to sweep Portland and earn a share of the 2017 regular season West Coast Conference Championship, LMU (37-16, 20-7 WCC) cruised to a 16-5 victory over Portland (10-41-1, 5-22 WCC) from UP's Joe Etzel Field. The conference title is the seventh in program history, and the first for LMU since 2000.
The Lion bats came to play in the lopsided affair, collecting the 16 runs on 19 hits, including a season-high four homers, with six players posting multiple hits. Phil Caulfied went 3-for-6 with three runs scored, a homer and two RBI hitting out of the leadoff spot, while Niko Decolati was also 3-for-6, scoring twice. Jamey Smart reached three hits in the five-run top of the ninth, launching his sixth homer of the year, a three-run shot, to cap a 3-for-6 day that included two runs scored and five RBI. The five RBI are a season-high for LMU this year, and a new career high for Smart. Jimmy Hill and Billy Wilson also homered for LMU, with Hill going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI.
All nine starters for the Lions collected at least one hit in the victory, with Spencer Erdman's third-inning bunt single extending his hit streak to 21 games. The hit streak is the longest for a Lion player since Michael Glomb hit safely in 21 straight during the 2008 season.
After giving up four runs on three hits, all coming with two out, in the second inning, Blake Redman settled down nicely to eventually log 7.0 innings while surrendering five runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts and pick up the win. The decision moved Redman, who retired the final 12 batters he faced after a Devin Kopas homer in the fourth, to 5-6 on the season.
Freshman Braydon Salzman closed the door on the Pilots, tossing the final 2.0 innings and allowing just two hits while striking out a pair. Portland starter Marty Luckenbach took the loss on Senior Day, dropping to 1-2 on the season after allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 3.0 innings.
With a share of the WCC title in hand, LMU will now travel to Banner Island Ballpark and the West Coast Conference Championship Tournament this week in Stockton, Calif. The Lions will open play at 7 p.m. on Thursday night against the third-seed BYU Cougars. The Lions enter the tournament as the second seed behind Gonzaga. The fourth seed will belong to either Saint Mary's or San Diego depending on the final scores from Sunday's games. Saint Mary's holds the tiebreaker between the two teams, so the Toreros need a victory teamed with a Gael loss to become the fourth seed.
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