Lutherans rule the day

Pac Lutheran piled up 13 hits with six free passes
as they handed Redlands their third loss to start the

Pacific Lutheran athletics photo

Lutheran ruled the day as Pac Lu and Cal Lu opened their seasons in Arizona with wins. Pac Lu exploded for 13 runs over a two-inning stretch in a 13-8 victory over Redlands on Thursday at the Cactus Classic. Cal Lu used dominant pitching to take down Texas-Dallas 8-3 for their opening win. Whittier fell to Vangard 9-1 in an exhibition game as they open their season with Willamette on Friday.

Pacific Lutheran 13, Redlands 8

The Bulldogs (0-3) drew first blood, pushing across a run in the bottom of the first before the Lutes (1-0) piled on four runs in the third inning. A wild pitch tied the game as Tori Doten touched home plate for PLU's first run of the day before Marques Carlson drove in two on a single down the left field line. Michael Cesar drove in the inning's fourth run, giving the Lutes' the 4-1 lead.

The lead proved fleeting with Redlands answering with four runs of its own in the bottom of the third, taking a 5-4 lead heading into the top of the fourth. The Lute offense exploded for nine runs in the fourth with base hits from Carlson, Max Cummings, King Jimenez-Cruz, and Jacob Bockelie all plating two runs in the offensive onslaught that saw the Lutes seize a 13-5 lead.

Redlands added two in the bottom of the fourth and one more in the sixth but it wasn't enough as the Lutes cruised to the 13-8 victory.

Jimenez-Cruz finished three-for-four with three runs scored and two RBIs while Carlson finished with two hits and four RBIs. Austin Gormley, Bockelie, and Cesar also finished with multiple hits as the Lutes outslugged the Bulldogs 14-11.

Alex Gregory got the start on the mound and tossed the opening 3 2/3 innings, striking out two and allowing three earned runs. Jacob Mortensen tossed the final 5 1/3 innings in long relief, collecting the win and striking out four while allowing just two hits.

"Mortensen did a great job. He started out rough but was lights out the last three innings," said Head Coach Nolan Soete. "Carlson had a big day at the plate and he put together a lot of quality at bats. Jimenez-Cruz also had a big day with three hits, a stolen base, and two RBIs. We played sloppy defensively, but overall it was a good team win."

Cal Lutheran 8, Texas-Dallas 5

Although the UT Dallas Comets struck early with a five-spot in the top of the first, the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen rallied behind eight scoreless innings from senior pitcher Justin Fong to come back and take their season opener 8-5. Coming in with a runner on and no outs in the second, Fong allowed just two hits across his next 28 batters while striking out five in Thursday's victory. 

Offensively, the rest of the lineup brought the run support needed to overcome the early deficit and take the lead in the fourth. Sophomore Tanner Wright and juniors Ryne Yamashiro, Kaden White, Matt Sciumbato and Ryan Probst each collected a pair of hits while junior transfer Nick Pico recorded a team-best three RBI in his Kingsmen debut. 

UT Dallas opened the contest with back-to-back singles off of junior Troy Frazier and soon capitalized on a double by Luke Richter for the early lead. Richter later scored on a wild pitch followed by an error that later resulted in two more unearned runs in the first. 

However, that would be all for the Comets as the Kingsmen bats came to life starting with a double from Pico that scored White and Yamashiro in the bottom of the first, closing the deficit to 5-2. 

The hits continued to roll from there, Cal Lutheran tallying a total of 12 hits on the day. The Kingsmen tacked on three more runs in the third off a wild pitch and RBIs from Pico and Probst to knot things up at five apiece, before Yamashiro singled in the fourth for the go-ahead run. 

For extra run insurance, junior Cortez Espinoza scored senior Trevor Egan on a sacrifice fly and Sciumbato sent Wright home on a single in the bottom of the sixth to rack up the final two runs for the Kingsmen.