Lutz healthy, happy at Cumberland

Christian Lutz hit three home runs this year for Cumberland County College. CONTRIBUTED

Christian Lutz wanted to have a memorable freshman year.

He did, but for all the wrong reasons.

His second freshman year, that was memorable for all the right reasons.

Lutz graduated from Father Judge High School two years ago. He then went to Cumberland County College, a two-year school in South Jersey, to continue his baseball career. It got off to a rough start.

“It was our first game, first inning, I walked,” said Lutz, who was a star outfielder and designated hitter at Judge. “I got on base, so that was good, and I scored, but when I did, I slid home and really messed up my left shoulder.

“It was bad. It hurt. I knew it was bad right away. I didn’t know what it was, but it hurt. It was dislocated. Torn labrum. All that stuff. It was bad, it was the end of the year, didn’t even make a full inning.”

Lutz ended up sitting out the year and red-shirting the season. He returned as good as ever for his second year and in the process led the Dukes to a historical season.

With Lutz swinging for the fences, Cumberland won its first NJCAA DIII Baseball World Series by knocking off Rowan College at Gloucester County 11-7 in Greeneville, Tennessee.

The Dukes were knocked out of the regional tournament after suffering a 21-2 loss to RCGC, but they recovered to twice avenge the loss after they made the World Series with an at-large bid.

It couldn’t have been a better comeback season for Lutz.

“It felt so good, I think it motivated us that we had to play a team that knocked us out, that just helped us, I think,” said Lutz, who blasted a two-run home run in the deciding game. “This was great baseball. There are great teams out there. People don’t understand that, always, but a lot of guys who want to get drafted will go to a two-year school so they have a chance.”

The Dukes had three players get selected in the recent Major League Baseball Draft. Lutz wasn’t one of them, but he did enjoy a great season.

Lutz hit .300 with three home runs and 28 RBIs.

He wasn’t the only Crusader to help the Dukes make history.

Matt Spaeth, who graduated a year ago, was one of the top players for Cumberland. The infielder hit .346 with 36 RBIs. He had two hits in the series-winning victory over RCGC. It didn’t take long for the Judge boys to get reacquainted halfway down the shore.

“He’s having a great season, especially in the field, but he’s also doing it on offense,” Lutz said of Spaeth. “We didn’t room together this year, but we are going to next year. It was really good to have him come down. He’s a great player. He was huge in us winning.”

Lutz sees being things ahead for Spaeth.

He also hopes there’s big things in his future.

The same week Cumberland was winning the World Series, Lutz’s former teammate, Dan Hammer, was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. Lutz hopes some day, he gets the same opportunity as his teammate.

“It was great to see Hammer get drafted, he deserves it and he’s a great player,” said Lutz, who was first-team All-Catholic as a junior, the same year Hammer was the MVP of the Catholic League. “That’s my goal, too. And Matt’s goal. We all want to play pro ball. Hammer really deserved it, he’s always been great. I’m trying to show people that I can play, so I’m working hard. And I think it shows people that Father Judge has some great baseball players. And they’re doing great every year now.”

This summer, Lutz will take the summer off from playing, but not from working out. He did say he could possibly compete in a weekend tournament or two, but his primary focus will be getting stronger and faster. Not only will that help him at Cumberland next year, it will help him in the future, be it at a four-year school or in pro ball.

And if pro baseball doesn’t work out, he is preparing for a fall back.

He switched his major from accounting to criminal justice. While he was good at accounting, he wants to have a career where he’s not stuck behind a desk.

“It wasn’t boring, but I want to do something exciting,” said Lutz, who would like to get a job with the FBI. “Obviously, baseball is the plan, that’s what I’m working for, but I know it doesn’t always work out. Criminal justice is a great career, you can do a lot with it.”

And while he still has a long way to go before he graduates college, he already has a good resume. A resume that now includes World Series champion.

“This was great for us and the school,” said Lutz, whose team went 47-5 on the season. “When we didn’t win our tournament, I think it really motivated us to play better.”