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PLNU, with Record-Setting 43-7 Season, Headed for NCAA Regionals As No. 1 Seed

SportsPLNU, with Record-Setting 43-7 Season, Headed for NCAA Regionals As No. 1 Seed

Sea Lions College baseballSea Lion Baxter Halligan, who tied a league record with his 11th win this season. Photo credit: plnusealions.com

Point Loma Nazarene’s baseball team heads into the Division II NCAA West Regionals Thursday as a No. 1 seed, continuing a roll that has lasted basically all season.

Following a four-game sweep of Fresno Pacific, the Sea Lions finished with a 43-7 record – they were 25-7 in the PacWest – and didn’t drop a series all season, only suffering a split last month at the hands of Oakland’s Academy of Art.

PLNU also set numerous conference and school records as they finished one of the best regular seasons in school history by capturing the school’s first PacWest crown in baseball.

Now the Sea Lions are set to make their fourth trip to a regional and third in the past five seasons. But this time they’re close to home as Point Loma will play host.

The NCCA announced seedings and schedules late Sunday. With an early bye, PLNU faces the loser of the 11 a.m. Northwest Nazarene-Cal Poly Pomona contest. The Sea Lions game follows at 2 p.m.

Despite their success, the conference title was on the line going into Wednesday’s season-closing games, as Azuza Pacific (34-16, 23-9, PacWest) remained in the chase. APU’s loss to Biola, assured Point Loma at least a share of the top spot with the opportunity to win outright by completing the sweep of Fresno Pacific.

The Sea Lions won both games, 14-7 and 14-9.

“A conference championship is a big deal. It means you were good from day one and these guys were good all year,” Head Coach Justin James said after the sweep in Fresno.

Point Loma’s wins are the most of the Division-II era for the program and the best posting since the 2003 team won 47 games. The 43 wins also ties the PacWest mark for wins in a season set by California Baptist in 2012, and again in 2014.

The Sea Lion pitching staff leads the conference with a 2.98 ERA, the fourth best mark in the history of the conference. The offense also set the pace for the PacWest with a .308 batting average. The team also entered the weekend as the best fielders in the country.

Top performers included dual-threat Baxter Halligan, who tied the PacWest record with his 11th win this season on Tuesday, while also hitting .337. Closer Cole Hillier logged 19 saves and slugger Otto Kemp hit 13 home runs and led the conference with 61 runs scored.

Correction: The original story misstated the opponent of the Thursday PLNU NCAA Regional game.

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