by Jared Beilby, Student Intern
PARKLAND, Wash. – Tom Zarosinski set a new George Fox University record for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched with 27 by holding Pacific Lutheran University to no runs through the first four innings, but the nationally-ranked Bruins ultimately fell 3-2 to the Lutes in Northwest Conference baseball action Sunday afternoon here at the PLU Field.
Zarosinki broke the previous George Fox record of 26.2 consecutive scoreless innings set by southpaw Brandon Rupp in 2005. The big right-hander has been a stellar part of a Bruins' pitching staff that has the most shutouts in the nation (10), threw 40 consecutive scoreless innings at one point, and is well on its way to a new team record for best earned run average, currently at 2.27.
Despite the school record, however, Zarosinski got no decision as he pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out six. He was relieved by Connor Harris (0-2), who went 2.1 innings and allowed one run on one hit to take the loss. Sean Eberhardt got one out and faced three batters.
The Bruins scored in the first when Zach Rapacz singled in his brother Josh to build a 1-0 lead. After allowing a pair of runners aboard in the bottom half of the inning, Zarosinski pitched the next trio of innings perfectly and earned the scoreless innings record when he struck out Kory Vanderstaay to end the fourth.
The Lutes finally broke through in the fifth as Tyler Thompson hit a solo home run to even the score and Drew Oord hit an RBI-double to make it 2-1. The Bruins tied it in the seventh when Derek Blankenship singled to right field to bring Kadyn Nannini home.
Neither club scored in the eighth and George Fox was unable to take the lead in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Lutes broke the tie and earned the win when three walks, one intentional, loaded the bases and Casey Dawes scored on a wild pitch by Eberhardt.
A.J. Konopaski (2-0), the national leader in saves who blew two saves opportunities in the series but picked up his first two wins, finished the game's final three innings and allowed one earned run on two hits. The Lutes starter, Derrick Mahlum, went six innings while striking out 11 and allowing four hits.
Blankenship paced the Bruins with a pair of hits and an RBI. In total, the Bruins were outhit 7-6, but only had one error to Pacific Lutheran's two.
George Fox, ranked 17th in the Collegiate Baseball / ABCA poll and 19th in the D3baseball.com poll, is now 24-8 and 14-7 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran is 18-13 and 10-7 in the league.
NEXT: George Fox hosts conference-leading and No. 1-ranked Linfield College (27-3, 17-1 NWC) in a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. on Saturday… Pacific Lutheran travels to St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., for a solo non-conference contest at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.