Pitching is what has set Point Loma Nazarene apart this season and so it was again over the weekend in a PacWest series win over Hawaii Hilo.
PLNU (36-6, 18-6 PacWest) started with 17-0 and 4-0 home victories in Friday’s doubleheader. Starting pitchers Baxter Halligan (9-2), who allowed two hits and struck out eight over five innings, and Dylan Miller (7-1), who allowed seven hits and struck out three in six innings, set the tone.
The wins gave the Sea Lions a dozen shutout victories on the season.
By the end of the series, PLNU’s team ERA had been whittled to 2.29. Fresno Pacific is second in the conference with a 4.17 ERA, making it one of only three conference opponents with a sub-5.00 ERA.
PLNU won the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 3-2, with Hawaii Hilo (26-16, 14-14) scoring both runs in the second inning. That meant PLNU pitching did not allow a run in 26 of 27 innings over the first three games.
Hawaii Hilo turned the tables in the finale, beating PLNU 2-0 to hand the Sea Lions their second shutout of the season.
PLNU center fielder Jack Malone had a game-high five RBIs in the opener, coming within a double of hitting for the cycle.
The Sea Lions remain tied with Azusa Pacific (29-13, 18-6) atop the PacWest standings.
With 36 victories this season, PLNU is closing in on the fifth 40-win season in school history. The 2004 team won a school-record 47 games. The Sea Lions, ranked No. 4 in Division II, have eight games remaining in the regular season before heading into postseason play.
This week: Thursday vs. Concordia, Noon (DH), Friday at Concordia, 2 p.m. (DH).
University of San Diego (25-13, 11-7 WCC) fell 11-7 in its opener at BYU (21-16, 7-8), then its pitching kicked in for 8-3 and 4-3 victories to deliver the series win.
USD redshirt freshman left-hander Kyle Carr (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory in the middle game with 2 1/3 innings of one-run relief that included four strikeouts. Toreros shortstop Cody Jefferis’ game-high four RBIs led the offense.
USD sophomore left-hander Brycen Mautz (7-1) allowed two runs over his six-inning start to position the Toreros for victory in the finale. Toreros second baseman Chase Meidroth’s game-high three RBIs included a two-run homer.
The Toreros remain two games behind first-place Gonzaga (26-11, 13-5), tied for second place with Loyola Marymount (15-24-1, 11-7).
This week: Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton, 6 p.m., Friday-Sunday vs. Santa Clara, 6 p.m./5 p.m./1 p.m.
San Diego State (11-30), which had the week off from Mountain West play, lost two weekend home games to No. 7 Stanford (24-12) on 9-6 and 6-4 scores. The Aztecs split a two-game home series with Grand Canyon (27-14), losing 7-2 on Thursday before winning 2-1 on Friday.
SDSU junior right-hander Troy Melton went the distance in the victory, scattering five hits without allowing an earned run. Melton had five strikeouts and did not walk a batter. It was the first nine-inning complete game for the Aztecs since May 16, 2019, covering a span of 107 games.
This week: Tuesday at Long Beach State, 6 p.m., Friday-Sunday at Fresno State, 6 p.m./3 p.m./1 p.m.
UC San Diego (15-23, 6-9 Big West) rebounded from Friday’s 4-3 setback at Cal State Bakersfield (15-22, 8-7) to win the series with 6-3 and 9-5 victories over the weekend.
The UCSD bullpen came up big, allowing only one earned run over 19 1/3 innings of relief with 19 strikeouts and two walks.
UCSD center fielder Ryan McNally went 7-for-12 in the series with five RBIs to lead the Tritons offense.
This week: Friday-Sunday vs. UC Riverside, 6:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 1 p.m.
Cal State San Marcos (13-29, 9-23 California Collegiate Athletic Association) was swept in its four-game series at Cal Poly Pomona (26-15, 21-10), dropping the Cougars’ into last place in the CCAA amid a losing streak that has reached seven games.
San Marcos was outscored 42-14 in the series — including 16-1 in Sunday’s finale — and watched its team ERA rise from 7.75 to 8.10.
This week: Friday-Sunday vs. San Francisco State, 3 p.m./Noon (DH)/11 a.m..