Pacific Remains In NWC Title Hunt After Split With PLU
Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score
PARKLAND, Wash. – Much like many of their critical big games over the course of the year, Pacific's quest for a Northwest Conference baseball championship will come down to the final inning.
Pacific rebounded from a first game loss to win big in the second game Saturday, earning a split in a pair of offensively charged games with Pacific Lutheran at the PLU Baseball Field. In the opener, the Lutes got five runs in the first off of pitcher Rob Dittrick (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii) to open the floodgates towards a 13-5 victory.
The Boxers returned the favor in the nightcap, scoring eight runs in the final three innings for a 13-5 rout. Mike Nagamine (Sr., Aiea, Hawaii) and Michael Arakaki (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii) each had four of the Boxers' season high 18 hits and Donnie Bradley (Fr., Beaverton, Ore.) had four runs batted in, with three coming on a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.
The split allows Pacific (21-15, 18-5 NWC) to remain in contention for their first NWC title since 1979, but makes the road to the NCAA playoffs that much tougher. The Boxers slipped into a first place tie with Whitworth, who completed a doubleheader sweep of Whitman on Saturday. If both teams win, the two will share the NWC title and Whitworth will advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament based on head-to-head competition. Should Pacific win and Whitworth lose, the Boxers would win the league title outright and earn the conference's automatic qualifier to the tournament.
Pacific Lutheran (24-12, 16-7 NWC) was eliminated from conference title contention with Whitworth's victory and is guaranteed third place in the NWC standings.
GAME 1 – PACIFIC LUTHERAN 12, PACIFIC 3
The Lutes made a big statement in the first inning, scoring five runs off of Dittrick on five hits. The first four PLU batters all got singles, with Jacob Hoffman opening scoring when his single through the right side scored Dominick Courcy. Brock Gates followed with a single to left field that scored Corey Moore. Hoffman scored on a Jaron Iwakami sacrifice fly before Nicholas Hall plated two more on his single through the left side.
The Boxers finally got on the board in the third when Bradley led off with a walk and scored on Kevin Schwartz's (Sr., Milwaukie, Ore.) single to left. The Lutes came right back in the home half of the frame, scoring two more on a two-RBI single by Hall to right center field.
PLU played add-on in a big way with a three-run fourth that chased Dittrick from the game. Courcy and Moore opened with singles and Gates added the third hit of the inning through the left side that scored Courcy. Moore scored on a bases loaded walk issued to Iwakami and Ryan Frost drove in the third run with a sacrifice fly off of reliever Quin Moore (So., Bellingham, Wash.). Frost drove in two more runs in the sixth with a single to left.
The Boxers tallied single runs in both the eighth in the ninth. Nick Tasaka (Jr., Hawaii Kai, Hawaii) doubled to open the eighth and scored on a double by Nate Rasmussen (Sr., Sandy, Utah). Arakaki led off the ninth with a single to right and scored on Bradley's ground out.
Trevor Lubking (5-3) earned the big win for PLU, allowing one run on just two hits with six walks and eight strikeouts in seven innings of work. Dittrick (8-2) took his first loss to a conference opponent this season, allowing 10 runs, nine earned, on 12 hits with two walks and a strikeout in 3.1 innings of work. Schwartz went 2 for 4 to lead Pacific at the plate. Hall went 4 for 5 with four RBI to lead the Lutes.
GAME 2 – PACIFIC 13, PACIFIC LUTHERAN 5
The first five innings proved frustrating for the Pacific offense as they were matched in every scoring inning by a PLU rally. The trend finally changed in the fifth when PLU could only match one of the Boxers' two runs in the frame to tie it at 5-5.
The Boxers scored what proved to be the winning run in the seventh. Tasaka singled with one out, stole second and scored on Jared Van Hoon's (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) single to left center field.
The floodgates officially opened for the Boxers in the eighth as they tacked on four runs thanks to four hits and a pair of PLU errors. Nagamine opened with a single, Logan Moen (Jr., Brier, Wash.) reached on an error and Arakaki loaded the bases with a bunt single. Pinch-hitter Greg Tellez (Sr., White Salmon, Wash.) drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the first run of the inning.
Bradley tried to put the squeeze bunt on, only to watch relief pitcher Kipp Godfrey misplayed the ball, which allowed both Arakaki and Moen to score. A double steal and a walk loaded the bases yet again, and Tasaka drew the walk to score Tellez.
Brandon Lundeberg, PLU's fifth pitcher of the game, appeared to be headed out of the ninth unblemished when Arakaki singled and Jordan Siu (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) drew a walk with two outs. That set the table for the singles-hitting Bradley, who showed some power when he hammered a three-run homer right field to add a punctuation mark to the game.
Pacific's closer, Van Hoon, pulled yeoman's duty to pick up his third win of the season in his longest collegiate pitching outing. In five innings of work, he allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out one. Starter Mike McGuire (Sr., Olympia, Wash.) allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits and three walks in four innings of work.
Jacob Otness was collared for the loss for PLU, dropping to 3-3. He allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2.1 innings of work. Hoffman and Ryan Frost each had two hits to pace the Lutes offensively.
The two teams will wrap up the series and the 2012 regular season on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for noon.