RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- In just his second start of the season, California Baptist University's Patrick Smith threw a complete-game, allowing just one earned run to lead the top-seed Lancers to a season-saving 4-2 win over fourth-seed Cal State San Marcos in an elimination game at the 2011 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round-Riverside Bracket Saturday.
The win keeps the Lancers' season alive and moves them into the championship round against third-seed Concordia. CBU (43-15) must beat the Eagles today to force an "if necessary" game Monday.
Cal State San Marcos has its season come to a close at 34-19.
Smith, who is the Lancers' usual closer and made his team-leading 21st appearance of the season, was brilliant. He uncorked 139 pitches, scattered eight hits, only walked one, struck out nine and benefited from three inning-ending double plays.
"The arm feels great. It always feels good when you win," said Smith, whose only other start was April 19 at San Francisco State a week prior to the end of the regular season. "When I found I was starting this morning, I just started rolling through the same mental approach I had up in San Francisco. So, getting that start a month ago was huge for today."
The Cougars struck first with an unearned run when Trent Jemmett, who doubled, scored on a throwing error by Brian Sharp.
For the next four innings, it seemed as if that might be enough for Cougar starter Matt Kretchmer (6-2), who limited the Lancers to just one hit in the first four innings, stranding five runners. The Lancers also had two runners thrown out at the plate, one in the first and one in the third.
But in the fifth after Smith got his third inning-ending double play, the Lancer bats awoke. With a runner on second and two outs, Sharp drew an intentional walk by Kretchmer, and the Lancers answered with four straight hits, including a two-RBI ground-rule double by Josh Manzano that gave the Lancers a 3-1 lead.
After Kretchmer left, Drew Madrigal welcomed reliever Matt Bataska with a single up the middle to score Manzano, giving the Lancers a 4-1 lead.
That was all Smith (6-0) needed as he retired 10 straight after giving up an RBI single to Johnny Omahen in the sixth. He hit Anthony Renteria with a pitch with two outs in the ninth but got Mike Mecucci to softly line out to Eric Zaragoza at third for the final out.
"This is what I was hoping to do today," said Smith. "I didn't expect the pitch count to be so high, but sometimes you have to do things you don't normally do to win games. My change-up was on today, and that ended up being my key pitch."
Kretchmer went 4.2 innings and was tagged for all four earned runs. He walked four and struck out three.
Madrigal and Cole Bullard each had two hits for the Lancers, who had half of their eight hits in the fifth.
Omahen and Mecucci each had two hits apiece for the Cougars.
It was the seventh game of the tournament that was decided by two runs or less, and it was the Lancers' fifth win the season over Cal State San Marcos, all of them by a combined seven runs.