Thursday, March 21, 2013

Big weekend for baseball team

Lutes take two of three from defending conference champs, Whitworth

By Brandon Adam, Sports Writer

The Lutes rallied twice in their double header against Whitworth on Saturday before narrowly dropping the series finale on Sunday. Dedicated Pacific Lutheran fans braved the cold, rainy conditions to watch. 

The Lutes combined dominant pitching and timely hitting to take two of three games from the former Northwest Conference champions. “We just [need to] put it all together as a package as a team, and we will be good,” pitcher Jake Otness, a sophomore, said. 

The Lutes (6-3, 13-6) sit two games behind Linfield and George Fox who are tied for first place.

PLU 4, Whitworth 3

Pitcher Max Beatty, a junior, continued his push for conference pitcher of the year throwing a complete game. He improved his season mark to 5-1 with the win.

The Lutes scored first in the bottom of the third on an Alec Beal sacrifice fly. The junior outfielder scored senior Jacob Olsufka, who walked earlier in the inning.

Whitworth took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk and RBI groundout. Beatty said he thought home plate umpire Mark Anderegg tightened his zone leading to the walk. He snapped at the umpire following controversial calls on balls three and four. 

Then the Lutes took the lead for good, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Beal drove a double into the left-field corner scoring Olsufka and outfielder Dominick Courcy, a junior. Catcher Curtis Wildung, a sophomore, drove Beal in with a single to right field, giving the Lutes a 4-2 lead. 

The Pirates drew within a run following two PLU errors before Beatty closed the door. 

PLU 5, Whitworth 4

Trailing 4-3 with one out in the ninth, Wildung drove a pitch into the left-center gap to score third baseman Drew Oord, a first year, and Beal, giving the Lutes their second conference victory of the day in walk-off fashion. 

The Lutes stormed out of the dugout to swarm Wildung following the game-winner. 

The scoring started when Beal scored Courcy with a third-inning single to put the Lutes up 1-0. 

The Pirates responded with a two-out RBI single in the top of the fourth to tie the game. 

Whitworth earned a run of their own in the third, scoring two more in the fifth and one in the seventh to take a 4-1 lead. 

PLU scored twice in the seventh inning before Wildung’s late-game heroics. Courcy drove in Oord with a double to left field, and designated hitter Daniel Altchech scored Courcy with a sacrifice fly. 

A.J. Konopaski, a sophomore and the Lutes’ closer, picked up his first win of the season throwing a perfect top of the ninth. 

Courcy finished 3-5 at the plate. 

Whitworth 9, PLU 8

After trailing 9-6 going into the bottom of the ninth and a PLU rally, the tying run was left on first base following a lineout and foul out. 

The Lutes allowed nine runs, the second highest total allowed this season. 

“Our first two games, our pitching was there,” Beatty said. “This third game, pitching wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but that’s when our bats came alive.”

PLU’s eight runs tied its second-highest scoring output of the season. 

Trailing 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Lutes scored four times on the strength of a bases-loaded walk followed by a hit by pitch. Wildung drove in Courcy to start the rally. First-year Cory Nelson, a utility player, drove in the final run of the frame on a fielder’s choice. 

The Pirates scored three times in the top of the sixth, creating a three-run cushion. 

In his second start of the season, Nelson was 4-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Junior Nick Hall, a shortstop, was 2-3 with an RBI, run scored and two walks.