DEMOREST, Ga. – Paul Caudill stifled the Pacific Lutheran offense for eight innings as third-seeded Birmingham-Southern defeated the second-seeded Lutes 7-1 Friday evening in the NCAA Div. III South Regional at Loudermilk Field.
Birmingham-Southern's win avenged the Panthers' 7-2 loss to Pacific Lutheran on Thursday and left three teams vying for the regional championship heading into Saturday's action. Pacific Lutheran will take on fifth-seeded Emory Saturday at 12 p.m. EST, with the winner advancing to face Birmingham-Southern in the championship matchup at 3:30 p.m. EST.
PLU finished the day with only one run on five hits the day after scoring seven on nine hits against the Panthers. Tyler Thompson again proved to be the Lutes' top hitter, stroking a double among his two hits one day after driving in four for the Lutes. Collin Nilson also doubled, while Landon Packard and Tanner Williams picked up hits for PLU. David Bourbonnais and David Scott each finished with three hits for Birmingham-Southern, which totaled 15 hits in the game.
Cory Nelson started for the Lutes and tossed a season-high 135 pitches while giving up four earned runs on 14 hits. Lee Larson picked up the final two outs on the mound for PLU, allowing one unearned run. Caudill improved to 6-0 for the Panthers after limiting PLU to one run over eight innings, and Wilson Jamison tossed the final frame for BSC.
Two days after PLU committed five errors in a win over Emory, the Lutes totaled three errors Friday that led to three unearned runs for the Panthers. The first came in the bottom of the third, as an error to begin the inning allowed a BSC baserunner who came around to score on a single by Jacob Mayfield. PLU tied it up in the next inning, as Nilson drove the first pitch of the frame into right center for a double and Thompson put runners on the corners with a single through the left side. Ben Welch brought Nilson home on a fielder's choice groundout.
Birmingham-Southern reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fourth, opening the inning with three straight singles to go up 2-1. The Panthers added two more in the bottom of the fifth on RBI singles by Bourbonnais and Scott, and they stretched their advantage to 7-1 with three runs in the eighth. The first scored via a double and a single, while the last two were unearned as PLU committed two errors in the inning.
The Lutes fell to 32-13 this season, while Birmingham-Southern improved to 37-11-1.