ATHLETICS | The Lions rode stellar pitching and a three-game winning streak in the West Coast Conference baseball tournament to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the first for the Lions since 2000, putting them on the road to Omaha and the College World Series.
LMU will open up play in the Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA. The Lions (32-23) will open postseason play against the No. 2 regional seed Baylor (34-17) on Friday, at 1 p.m. No. 1 UCLA (47-8) plays No. 4 Omaha (31-22-1) in the second game at 7 p.m. on Friday. Each of the 16 NCAA Regionals features a four-team, double-elimination format.
Also, the Lion softball team won its first game of the NISC Championships on Friday after coming back from a 5-1 deficit against Iowa State in Fort Collins, Colorado. The 40-win season came to an end on Saturday, however, with a pair of losses in the double-elimination tournament.
The Lions baseball team won their opening game of the WCC championships in Stockton, California, against top-seeded BYU behind the arm of right-hander Codie Paiva. After being named WCC Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday, the senior pitched a complete-game gem on Thursday afternoon becoming only the third pitcher in WCC baseball tournament history to strike out 10 or more hitters. In addition to Paiva’s honors, Nick Sogard was named WCC Defensive Player of the Year, and both were among the six Lions named to WCC All-Conference teams.
LMU’s win moved them into a winner’s bracket game against St. Mary’s on Friday. The Lions trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the sixth, then rallied for three, which was all they needed behind Josh Agnew’s strong performance to take Friday afternoon’s game against St. Mary’s 3-2 to advance to the title game.
The Lions walked into Banner Island Ballpark needing one more win to seal a trip to the NCAA baseball tournament and in a nerve wrenching, seesaw game picked up the victory over St. Mary’s in extra innings 4-2. Paiva was named the WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player while Trevin Esquerra, Nick Frasso and Nick Sogard were all named to the All-Tournament Team.
The conference championship is head coach Jason Gill’s first.
In other action, the WCC announced its 2018-19 Rowing All-Academic Team. This year’s 17-member team is comprised of student-athletes who have excelled both on the water and in the classroom. LMU’s Anna Davis makes her second straight entry to the team and is joined by senior Ma’at Hembrick, while 14 other Lion rowers took home honorable mention selections.