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APPLETON, Wis. – Win the inches. The motto all season long came to fruition on Tuesday afternoon as the Cal Lutheran baseball team won the inches and much more as it captured the first NCAA Division III national championship in program history. CLU rallied for two wins over Washington & Jefferson at Fox Cities Stadium on Tuesday to take the three-game set. 

After dropping the first game of a best-of-three series to the Presidents on Monday 12-2, the Kingsmen flipped the script with a 12-4 victory in Game 2 and a 7-2 win in Game 3 to claim the title. 

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“If you would have asked me in February, that these guys and this team would be sitting here, I would have looked at you and said you’re nuts,” said head coach Marty Slimak, who brought the Kingsmen back to the national championship for the third time in history. “We had so many question marks we didn’t know we could get close to something like this, but as the season progressed these guys started coming together and it was just a great clubhouse.” 

Needing a win to stay alive, CLU avenged its Game 1 loss by racking up 22 hits for 12 runs while getting a gutsy pitching performance from junior Nate Wehner, throwing on two days’ rest. The Bellevue, Washington native was spectacular for the Kingsmen, tossing a complete game and allowing just six hits while striking out eight. Wehner only allowed two runs through eight innings before the Presidents tacked on two more in the ninth when the game was well in hand.

Offensively, the Violet and Gold came out aggressive and set the tone early with two runs in the first inning. After loading the bases on a Max Weinstein hit-by-pitch, a Sinjin Todd single and a Jimmy Jauregui walk, Weston Clark hit a ball that the W&J first basemen threw away attempting to force Jauregui out at second. As the ball scampered into left field, Weinstein and Todd came around to score to put CLU ahead 2-0. 

The Presidents responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first but the Kingsmen regained the lead on a sacrifice fly by Cheynne Giles in the third.

After a scoreless fourth, CLU exploded for four runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth to jump out to a 10-2 lead. Four straight singles from Clark, Brad Fullerton, Giles and Trey Saito highlighted the fifth while a two-RBI double from Austin Kay in the sixth broke the game wide open.