PLNU Baseball Ranked No. 5 in Nation, Seeking Third Straight PacWest Title 

PLNU’s #24 Joey Nicolai and #3 Scott Anderson jumping for a high-five in their game on March 21 against HPU. Photo courtesy of PLNU Athletics SmugMug.

Coming off of a week in which the Point Loma Nazarene University baseball team bested conference rival Concordia University Irvine in a four-game series, 3-1, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association ranked the team No. 5 in the country. 

Boasting a record of 22-7-1 as of March 22, the Sea Lions are looking to sustain the success they have had over the recent years as they continue their push for a third-straight PacWest title. 

PLNU has won nine of its last ten games behind dominant and consistent pitching that has averaged 2.86 runs allowed per game since giving up 15 runs in a 15-13 slugfest loss versus Westmont College on March 2. 

Austyn Coleman, a reliever and graduate transfer student from Cal State San Bernardino, credited the team’s state-of-the-art pitching lab with providing insights that have translated to more efficient and successful pitching. 

“The pitching lab has really helped the team with finding new data and information about each individual player and each individual pitch that you typically couldn’t see with the naked eye,” Coleman said. “We were able to strengthen specific areas of our game in preparation for the season and find areas to continuously work on and improve through the season.” 

As a staff, PLNU has stifled opposing bats with a team ERA of 4.13, good for 23rd in the nation in Division II. Coleman said that in addition to the pitching lab, the culture surrounding the team lends itself to improvement as the season progresses. 

“The culture here is super fun. A lot of high-energy and dedicated guys all working toward a much larger goal. I’ve had a lot of good memories with the team on the field up to this point in the season and am excited to continue,” Coleman said. “The pitch lab is a huge advantage and we are one of very few to have it here at PLNU to make us better and just learn as much as we can about ourselves and pitching in general.”

However, the success of this team is not simply predicated on pitching. The Sea Lions rank 44th in the country in team batting average, with seven players batting at least .300 (min. 80 PA). 

Shortstop Scott Anderson, the Preseason PacWest Player of the Year, and catcher Jake Entrekin have both slugged their way to a 1.000 OPS, seven home runs and over 27 RBIs. Outfielder Eric Smelko, a Cal State University Dominguez Hills graduate transfer, has also provided an offensive boost with his .349 batting average and 1.001 OPS. 

“Our goal for the rest of the year is to keep playing Loma baseball. We know if we can keep playing good baseball we are a tough team to beat,” Smelko said. “We have worked hard throughout the fall, winter and spring to help us get to where we are now. If we keep the focus and intensity at practice, we give ourselves a great chance at playing postseason baseball.”

Postseason baseball has become somewhat of an expectation on The Point with the team making four appearances in the NCAA Championships since 2018, including the 2022 season in which the Sea Lions earned a berth to the national championship game. As the season proceeds, this year’s squad will look to keep its momentum going in its pursuit of another conference title and NCAA tournament berth.