Lutes fall from national rankingsby Christian Dilworth, Sports Writer
The Lutes entered the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. ranked No. 15 in the Top 25 poll. After rushing out to three straight wins, they fell in three straight and are now 9-6 returning home to host a four-game series against George Fox starting tomorrow.
After being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the Lutes are now unranked.
PLU 4, Emory 1
In the opening game of the tournament, Kelsey Robinson, a sophomore, pitched a four-hitter. Lindsey Matsunaga, a junior, provided late inning heroics with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh inning, lifting the Lutes to a 4-1 victory.
Robinson, the Puyallup native who transferred from Troy University this year, limited the formerly undefeated Eagles to one unearned run.
Finally in the top of the seventh, Matsunaga came up to plate with the bases loaded and delivered her game winning triple into right field. Robinson improved her record to 2-1 with the win.
PLU 3, Kean 2
For the second straight game, Matsunaga was the hero, hitting a two-out single into center field that drove in pinch runner Spencer Sherwin and forced the game into extra innings.
Both teams started their at-bats in the eighth with a runner on second base as the international tiebreaker rule was used. Kean scored on a one-out single, leaving the fate of the game in Pacific Lutheran’s hands.
Kelli Crawford, a first year, started at second base and advanced a base on a groundout, but stayed on third after senior Haley Harshaw’s single.
With Crawford on third, Kean let Harshaw advance to second, which allowed infielder Montessa Califano, a senior, to drive in Crawford and advance Harshaw to third. From there, Harshaw scored the game winning run on a wild pitch.
PLU 8, Hiram 0
The Lutes brought out their bats and handled Hiram with ease, playing only five innings because of the mercy rule.
Pitching inconsistency for Hiram loaded the bases for PLU on three straight walks. The Lutes took a 2-0 lead after a two RBI single by catcher Katie Lowery, a junior.
The Lutes then added five more runs in the third and a final run in the fourth when catcher Samantha Pryor, also a junior, drove in Sherman.
This game put the Lutes into the Gold Bracket facing Trine, a school in Indiana.
Trine 5, PLU 2
Pacific Lutheran kept their scoring active and scored in the first when senior Kaaren Hatlen hit a two-out single to drive in infielder Glenelle Nitta, a senior.
In the third, Trine took over, scoring three runs and adding another in the fourth. A three-run homerun by Andi Gasco, off Robinson, started Trine’s run production.
Gasco held the Lutes to a measly five hits, two coming from Robinson. PLU also let multiple scoring opportunities slip away, leaving seven runners on base.
Texas-Tyler 5, PLU 1
In a rematch of last year’s Tyler Regional in the NCAA Division III national tournament, Texas-Tyler came out the victor.
The Patriots and Lutes exchanged a run each in the first before the Patriots broke the game open with four runs in the second. They scored on three walks and three singles.
East Texas Baptist 5, PLU 3
Pacific Lutheran wasn’t able to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the sixth, and ETBU scored two runs in the bottom of the same frame after a two-out error extended the inning.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first on three consecutive run-scoring hits.
Pacific Lutheran had an opportunity in the last inning to tie or win the game with the bases loaded, but the threat ended with a fly out.
PLU, now 9-6, returns to campus this weekend to play George Fox in a four-game Northwest Conference series. They will play a pair of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday. First pitch on both days is at noon.