Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lutes sweep aside Pioneers

Baseball team takes three from Lewis and Clark on senior weekend

By Brandon Adam, Sports Writer
The weather was inconsistent during Pacific Lutheran’s three-game Northwest Conference series with Lewis and Clark last weekend, but the Lutes performance was just the opposite. They earned their first conference sweep of the season.

Pacific Lutheran extended its winning streak against Lewis and Clark to 17 games with a 14-1 win in game one, a ninth inning rally in game two on Saturday, and another 6-4 win on Sunday.

The Lutes showed strength at the plate and displayed exceptional pitching

"We were feeling good during practice this entire week and just translated it to the

game," sophomore Curtis Wildung, a catcher, said. "We got double digit hits in all three games."

Game One: PLU 14, Lewis and Clark 1

The Lutes’ bats came alive in the first game at noon on Saturday in a blowout 14-1 win.

Junior Alec Beal, an outfielder, and first-year infielders Drew Oord and Carson McCord each compiled three hits in the route.

After jumping out to a 5-0 lead through three innings, the Lutes cruised.

Senior Max Beatty dominated on the mound in seven shutout innings with four hits, no walks and nine strikeouts. Beatty improved to 6-4 on the season with the win.

Game Two: PLU 5, Lewis and Clark 4

The second game was much closer, with Lewis and Clark one strike from taking the game.

Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Lutes scored six times to win in walk-off fashion. With two outs, the bases loaded and down three, Wildung lofted a fly ball down the left-field line.

Lewis and Clark left fielder, Matthew Cathcart, had shifted back to respect the bat of Wildung, but it wasn’t enough. He dove and had the ball in his glove momentarily before it trickled out, allowing all three baserunners to score, tying the game.

After Oord was intentionally walked, McCord drove the first pitch he saw into left-centerfield to plate Wildung and earned himself a mobbing from his teammates.

"Baseball’s a funny game. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day," Beal said. "For some reason, we weren’t able to hit their starter very well."

Sophomore Collin Nilson, starting pitcher, allowed four runs in 7.1 innings of work. Chris Bishop, also a sophomore, picked up the win throwing a scoreless final 1.2 innings in relief.

Game Three: PLU 6, Lewis and Clark 4

They didn’t need a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but the Lutes snuck out another close win, 6-4, on senior day. Infielder Jacob Olsufka and pitcher Nathan Shoup were the lone seniors celebrated for their four years in the program.

The combined pitching efforts of sophomores Trevor Lubking and A.J. Konopaski contributed to the Lutes’ win. "We dominated up on the mound today," Beatty said.

After 116 pitches, Lubking struck out 14, allowing four hits and three runs in eight innings of work. He improved to 8-2 with the win.

Konopaski picked up the save, his fifth of the season, throwing the ninth inning.

To accompany the dominant pitching, the Lutes’ bats came into play in the second inning, scoring three times.

Beal was one of five Lutes to finish with two hits. "I was just seeing the ball well," Beal said. "Whenever I let the ball get deep, I seemed to hit the ball pretty hard and that’s where I seemed to get most of my hits from."

The Lutes compiled 12 hits as a team. With the game tied 3-3 after three innings, the Lutes scored single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh inning to create a cushion

Next weekend

The Lutes wrap up the conference portion of their schedule with a three-game NWC series at Pacific this weekend. The series starts with a doubleheader at noon tomorrow and a single game on Sunday. First pitch for that game is scheduled for noon as well.