2017-06-02 / Sports

Say cheese: CLU wins World Series

BASEBALL /// College World Series Baseball team earns first national title in program history
By Jonathan Andrade


NCAA CHAMPS—Cal Lutheran University baseball players celebrate their NCAA Division III World Series championship over Washington & Jefferson on May 30 in Appleton, Wis. 
Photos courtesy of d3photography NCAA CHAMPS—Cal Lutheran University baseball players celebrate their NCAA Division III World Series championship over Washington & Jefferson on May 30 in Appleton, Wis. Photos courtesy of d3photography The Kingsmen are national champions after impeaching the Presidents.

It might seem surreal, but it’s no dream.

Cal Lutheran’s baseball team defeated the Washington & Jefferson College Presidents 7-3 in the decisive third game of the NCAA Division III College World Series on May 30 at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis.

The Kingsmen evened up the championship series earlier in the day with a 12-4 win. Cal Lutheran lost the opener 12-2 to the Pennsylvania school on Memorial Day.

Cal Lutheran, which finished with a 40-11 overall record, captured its first national title in the program’s third finals appearance. The school was runner-up in 1992 and 1996.

“I was looking around at all my teammates with all of our national championship hats and T-shirts—and I just couldn’t believe it,” said Brad Fullerton, a senior center fielder out of Moorpark High. “All the odds were stacked against us. Apparently all the commentators were saying we shouldn’t have won all these games, but we did it.


LOCKED IN—Cal Lutheran senior center fielder Brad Fullerton, a Moorpark High graduate, had six RBI in six World Series games. LOCKED IN—Cal Lutheran senior center fielder Brad Fullerton, a Moorpark High graduate, had six RBI in six World Series games. “This is pretty surreal.”

Fullerton, the son of Moorpark baseball head coach Scott Fullerton, said the high-pressure atmosphere never rattled his teammates.

“It was all about fun for us,” Brad Fullerton said. “We always play so loose. It’s such a tight-knit group of guys. That’s why we played so well.”

The center fielder, who went four-for-five with a run and a stolen base in Game 2 against Washington & Jefferson, said he learned a valuable lesson during the life-changing experience.


DOGPILE—Kingsmen players pile on top of each other after winning Game 3 of the World Series. DOGPILE—Kingsmen players pile on top of each other after winning Game 3 of the World Series. “The more you enjoy it, the more successful you are,” Fullerton said. “That’s what it’s all about in the long run.”

The Kingsmen had a blast during the five-day tournament, topping Wheaton (Mass.) and North Central (Ill.) en route to the championship series.

“We kind of skated through the tournament,” said freshman Matt Sciumbato, a Royal grad. “We didn’t know how well we were going to do, but we ended up doing pretty well. We just kept doing our thing through the whole tournament.”

Sciumbato, who notched a single and scored a run in the second game of the series, said he was surprised by the outpouring of support from family, friends and former teachers watching the live stream back home in Acorn country.

“I didn’t know so many of my friends were actually watching the game,” Sciumbato said.

“I’m getting texts from everyone. It’s awesome.”

Sophomore catcher Kaden White, a former Camarillo standout, said a trip to the College World Series seemed unlikely earlier this spring.

“We’ve come so far from back when the season started,” White said. “No one expected us to win a national championship.”

White said some players quit the team earlier this season and others didn’t make the grade requirements— but the Kingsmen just marched along.

“Our pitching was looking thin at points, but we just got together as a team and decided the group of guys we had were going to stick together and give everything we had,” White said. “We’re all pulling for each other.

“We play for each other.”

Former Grace Brethren ace pitcher Troy Frazier, a freshman relief pitcher, said he enjoyed the unforgettable experience.

“It’s definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” the Thousand Oaks resident said. “As a freshman, I was just trying to soak it in for the first couple of days.

“This means a lot for the future. We have a lot of freshmen out there. Now we know what it takes to win a championship. We have three more years to try to do the same thing.”

Cortez Espinoza, a freshman outfielder who once roamed the diamond for Oaks Christian, expressed his excitement through a raspy voice. After cheering his team for six games in five unforgettable days, he nearly lost his voice, but he never lost his enthusiasm.

“I’ve been cheering on my guys,” Espinoza said. “I was just yelling hoping they did their best. It’s a good way to lose your voice.”

Espinoza, who hails from Simi Valley, drew cheers when he earned two putouts while patrolling right and center field in Game 2 of the championship series.

“This is a very humbling experience, especially as a freshman coming in,” he said. “This is not what I expected. To win a national championship is a great feeling.”

Miguel Salud, a senior closer for Cal Lutheran, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Fullerton reflected on this unforgettable journey. He played his best baseball when it mattered most, finishing with six RBI in six World Series games.

He put a bow on his career with a World Series championship.

Isn’t that every Little Leaguer’s dream?

“There’s absolutely no better way to finish a career than winning it,” Fullerton said. “It was definitely the best experience of my career.”

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