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Hickey, Waller pitch TLU past Trinity and into SCAC championship round

Hickey, Waller pitch TLU past Trinity and into SCAC championship round

CLEBURNE, Texas -- Ninth-ranked Texas Lutheran advanced to the championship round of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Championship for a second consecutive season with a 2-0 victory Saturday over fourth-ranked Trinity.

At The Depot at Cleburne Stadium, TLU freshman left-hander Matthew Hickey (Houston/Klein Collins) tossed eight innings of shutout baseball, and Drew Waller (Bellville/Bellville) entered the game with two runners on base in the ninth and registered three outs on nine pitches to notch his sixth save.

TLU improved to 31-10 overall. Trinity dropped to 31-10. The Bulldogs are the top seed in the conference seed. Trinity is the No. 2 seed. TLU was the No. 1 seed after taking two of three from the Tigers in the regular season.

With 14 relief appearances in his freshman season, Hickey made just his second career start on Saturday. Hickey was coming off a relief outing in last week's regular-season series with Schreiner that saw him toss a school-record 10-1/3 innings of relief.

Seven days later against Trinity, Hickey pitched into the ninth by scattering just four hits against a squad that averaged 10.38 hits and 7.03 runs per game. Hickey threw 118 pitches while walking five and striking out three. He induced nine fly-outs and 11 ground-ball outs.

Waller entered the game in the ninth with two runners on base and no outs. He struck out the first batter he faced, and then the Bulldogs posted an out on a fielder's choice to shortstop. The final out came on a fly ball to left.

The Tigers were held scoreless for the first time in 2019 and for the first time since a 4-0 loss to Centenary in last year's SCAC tournament (on May 5, 2018).

The Bulldogs scratched across a single run in the second and a single run in the fourth. Freshman left-fielder Blade Strzelczyk (San Antonio/East Central) knocked home Tyler Cauley (Mont Belvieu/Barbers Hill) with a base hit up the middle in the second.

In the fourth, catcher Cameron Wilson (Katy/Morton Ranch) singled through the left side to score Cauley.

Cauley went 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. Strzelczyk reached base four times with three walks and a base hit.

Trey Albaugh (Tomball/Concordia Lutheran) and Cole Irby (Buda/Hays) each had two hits.

TLU, the defending SCAC champion and the 2018 NCAA Division III national runner-up, will play in Sunday's championship round against either Trinity, Southwestern or Centenary.

Southwestern and Centenary are in an elimination game this afternoon, and the winner of that game will face Trinity at 7 p.m. tonight for the right to meet TLU at noon Sunday.

TLU needs just one win Sunday to repeat as the conference champion and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA DIII Baseball Championship.