Pacific Earns Share Of NWC Title With 9-5 Win Over PLU
PARKLAND, Wash. – For the first time in 33 years, Pacific has earned the right to the title of Northwest Conference baseball champion.
The Boxers took advantage of four PLU errors to score six unearned runs and used a pair of solid pitching performances from seniors Chad Fahey (Sr., Keizer, Ore.) and Jared Van Hoon (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) to beat Pacific Lutheran 9-5 Sunday at the PLU Field. The win clinched a share of Pacific's first Northwest Conference baseball title since 1979, finishing in a tie at the top of the standings with Whitworth. Pacific finishes the regular season at 22-15, 19-5 NWC.
Fahey improved to 6-2 on the year in what may he his final start. In seven innings, he allowed five runs, three earned, on seven hits with five walks and six strikeouts. He threw 133 pitches before yielding in the top of the eighth to Van Hoon.
Despite throwing five innings of relief in Saturday's second game to earn the win, Van Hoon was able to shut down the Lutes over the final two innings as he did not allow a hit and struck out two to earn his fourth save of the season.
Pacific wasted little time getting on the board, scoring one in the first without the aid of a hit. Kevin Schwartz (Sr., Milwaukie, Ore.) and Nick Tasaka (Jr., Hawaii Kai, Hawaii) led off the game with walks. Both were sacrificed up 90 feet and Schwartz scored on Nate Rasmussen's (Sr., Sandy, Utah) ground out.
After the teams traded runs in the third, Pacific broke the game open with four runs in the fourth. Mike Nagamine (Sr., Aiea, Hawaii) opened the frame when he reached on an error and made it second base when a potential double play ball was thrown long by PLU first baseman Brock Gates. Jordan Siu (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) followed with a single and Nagamine scored on Donnie Bradley's (Fr., Beaverton, Ore.) sacrifice fly.
Schwartz walked to load the bases again before Tasaka was issued a pass by PLU starter Chris Bishop. Van Hoon capped the frame with a two-run single to left that plated Schwartz and Siu.
PLU (24-13, 16-8 NWC) made it a 6-2 game in the bottom of the fourth when Fahey hit Nicholas Hall with the bases loaded to drive home Jacob Hoffman. The teams traded runs in the fifth before the Boxers made it an 8-3 game in the sixth when Bradley scored on the Lutes' third error of the game.
PLU loaded the bases with no outs in eighth and scored when Pearson singled to center field off of Fahey. Van Hoon came on and held the Lutes hitless to that point, but they would score the second run of the frame on a ground out. Pacific added one run in the ninth as Rasmussen singled to open the inning and scored on Moen's second double of the game.
Bishop was a hard-luck loser for the Lutes as he dropped to 3-2 on the season. He allowed six runs, but only one eanred, on three hits with five walks in 3.2 innings of work. Moen went 2 for 5 with one run scored and two RBI to lead Pacific at the plate, while Hoffman had two hits to lead PLU.
Whether or not Pacific will have a postseason opportunity remains in the air. With the tie for the NWC title with Whitworth, the Pirates earned the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament based on taking two of three games from the Boxers two weeks ago. The Boxers will now wait until Mon., May 13, to see if they are selected for one of 16 at-large berths to the tournament.