Courtesy Pacific Lutheran athletics
PARKLAND - Pacific Lutheran rallied from behind twice on a cold and sometimes rain-swept Saturday afternoon, taking 4-3 and 5-4 Northwest Conference baseball victories over defending champion Whitworth at the PLU field.
With the wins, the Lutes improve to 13-5 overall and 6-2 in the conference. Whitworth is now 8-8-1 overall and 3-2 in the NWC.
Game One - PLU 4, Whitworth 3
PLU scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally for the victory. The Lutes trailed 2-1 when a Whitworth error, combined with three PLU hits, led to the game-deciding rally.
Jacob Olsufka reached base on a fielding error and Drew Oord moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Dominick Courcy hit a single through the right side of the infield, moving Olsufka to third, and Courcy promptly stole second base, his 11th steal of the season. Alec Beal followed with a two-run double to left field, and after a fly out, Beal came home on a base hit by Curtis Wildung.
Whitworth scored a run in the top of the eighth when, with one out, Jeremy Druffel reached on an error and then went to second on an errant pickoff throw. Tyler Pfeffer followed with a run-scoring single, but PLU pitcher Max Beatty got out of the jam with a strikeout and ground out.
Beatty finished the complete-game effort to improve his season record to 5-1. Beatty allowed five hits and three walks while striking out three. Of the three runs he allowed, two were earned.
PLU took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Olsufka walked and moved up a base on a single by Oord. Another single by Courcy loaded the bases and Olsufka scored on a sacrifice fly by Beal.
Whitworth scored twice in the top of the sixth to take the lead. Erik Nikssarian led off with a single and advanced a basse on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Motsinger. Druffel was hit by a pitch and Pfeffer drew a walk to load the bases. Another walk, this one to Josh Davis, accounted for one run and the second scored on Danny Jordan's ground out.
Pacific Lutheran managed eight hits against two Whitworth pitchers, including Dan Scheibe, who saw his record fall to 2-1. Scheibe gave up all four runs, though only two were earned, on seven hits. He walked four batters and struck out nine. Taylor Isadore allowed a hit in one inning of work.
Courcey and Oord both had a pair of PLU's hits, Olsufka scored two runs and Beal drove in three.
Game Two - PLU 5, Whitworth 4
Curtis Wildung drilled a one-out, bases-loaded double to deep center field, driving in the tying and winning runs as Pacific Lutheran scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Oord, who finished 5-for-6 in the doubleheader, started the inning with a single, and Courcy followed with another base hit. Beal put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up a base, and Whitworth reliever Jason Renner intentionally walked Daniel Altchech to load the bases and bring Wildung to the plate. The left-handed sophomore drove the ball over the head of Whitworth centerfielder Nikssarian, who dove but was still several feet short of making the catch. Oord and Courcy both scored, giving the Lutes the sweep.
Starting pitchers Carson Blumenthal from Whitworth and Trevor Lubking from PLU were locked in a pitcher's duel through the early innings until a rain delay and a cold front changed the complexion of the game.
PLU took a 1-0 lead in the third when Oord walked, advanced to third on Courcy's hitk, and then scored on a base hit by Beal.
Lubking cruised through the first three innings, striking out six, but the Pirates touched him for a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Pfeffer led off the fourth with a base hit and Davis followed with a walk. After an unsuccessful sacrifice attempt and a strikeout, Justin Liu singled to right field to tie the game at 1-1. Whitworth scored two more in the fifth on one hit and two PLU errors. A bunt single and a hit batter led to Pfeffer's RBI single, and the second run scored on a throwing error following a double steal.
In the seventh, the Pirates made it 4-1 when Nathan Jewett was hit by a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded.
Blumenthal retired seven straight batters in the middle innings before the Lutes finally got to him for two runs in the seventh. After Oord led off with a walk, Courcy drove him in with a double, and after a ground out moved Courcy to third, Altchech drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Renner came into the game in the top of the eighth and was in line for a two-inning save until Wildung's winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.
AJ Konopaski pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up the victory, his first decision of the season. Renner took the loss and is now 1-1.
Pfeffer had three of Whitworth's six hits, while Courcy has three hits and Oord two more for the Lutes, who finished with nine.
The teams conclude their three-game Northwest Conference series with a nine-inning game starting at noon.