Sports

Menlo's Erceg provides winning effort in a losing cause

 

Menlo College junior Lucas Erceg hit 20 home runs and drove in 56 runs for the Oaks baseball team this remarkable season, yet he may be remembered more for a pitching performance in a losing effort.

Erceg made his first start of the season, and 11th appearance, Wednesday morning in the semifinals of the Golden State Athletic Conference playoffs at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.


Joe Biagini
All Erceg did was pitch seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, walking two and striking out eight. He was not on the mound when The Master's scored an unearned run in the bottom of the tenth inning to record a 2-1 victory over the Oaks and a spot in the conference championship.

The Warriors went on to force an if necessary game with a 12-6 win over Biola later in the day. The two teams meet again Thursday, with the winner earning an automatic bid into the NAIA national tournament.

Erceg, Menlo's saves leader with six, threw 16 innings in his previous 10 appearances combined. He more than held his own as a starter. He left with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a Dane Fujinaka RBI single in the fifth. Fujinaka had two of the Oaks' four hits.

The Master's tied the game in the eighth and walked off in the 10th.

Erceg, who also led Menlo (35-22) with 15 doubles and 70 hits, had an ERA of 0.78 to go with a batting average of .308. Only Nick Quejado (.321) and Garrett Gemgnani (.312) had better averages and only Gemgnani had more RBI, with 59.

Ashkhon Kuhaulua proved the ace of the pitching staff with an 8-5 record and 1.94 ERA. He recorded 138 strikeouts in 102 innings and tossed a pair of shutouts.

The Oaks blasted a record 80 home runs in one of the most historical seasons in school annuls, playing its first season in the GSAC.

Of local note

Menlo Park resident Joe Biagini was drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of UC Davis and finally got to pitch at AT&T Park on Wednesday as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Biagini attended The King's Academy before moving on to UC Davis. The Giants drafted him in the 26th round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft.

The Blue Jays claimed him on waivers last December and he made his major-league debut earlier this year.

Biagini is 1-1 with a 0.90 ERA in eight games. He has nine strikeouts in 10 innings and retired Matt Duffy on an infield grounder to end the seventh in an eventual Giants victory.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Menlo Athletics

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