Torgerson Throws Gem, Shuts Down Lutes
PARKLAND - Willamette starting pitcher Chris Torgerson brought an 8.24 earned run average into Sunday's game against Pacific Lutheran, a team that had scored 89 runs in its past five Northwest Conference baseball games.
So most everyone, besides Torgerson, was surprised when the junior righthander threw a masterful complete game five-hitter in the Bearcats' 7-0 victory over the conference-leading Lutes (16-6 overall, 7-2 NWC).
Taking advantage of some early offense provided by his teammates, Torgerson pitched ahead in the count throughout the game to improve his season record to 3-2 and substantially lower his earned run average. In addition to allowing only the five hits, Torgerson walked one batter, hit another and recorded two of his five strikeouts in the final inning.
The shutout came against a Pacific Lutheran team that came into the game averaging 10.2 runs per game, and it was also the first shutout of the Lutes since the 2009 season opener, a 4-0 loss at Redlands.
Willamette (7-13, 4-8) scored three runs in the first inning and two more in the second against Pacific Lutheran starter Scott Wall, who suffered his first loss against three victories.
Tyson Giza, who finished with six hits in the series, opened with a single and then stole second base. After an out, Mitchell Rowan drew a walk and Derek Collins hit a double to left, driving in Giza and sending Rowan to third. Max Stepan hit a single through the middle to drive in Rowan, and Sky Kelley followed with another single through the middle to plate Collins.
In the second inning, Mikey Lemon led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice and then scored on Giza's double. Doug Bloom's bunt single moved Giza to third, and he scored from there on Rowan's deep sacrifice fly to left field.
Meanwhile, Torgerson was shutting down the Lutes. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters to face him, and Dan Johansen, who reached on a walk to open the second, was gunned down trying to steal. Josh Takayoshi's single to center field with two outs in the fourth finally ended Torgerson's no-hit bid.
Willamette picked up its sixth run when Stepan led off the top of the fifth with a drive over the right field fence for his fourth homer of the year.
PLU's only real offensive threat came in the bottom half of the inning, but a big defensive play ended the rally. With Brock Gates on second and Ethan Ottemiller on first after base hits, Ben Shively slapped a two-out single through the right side of the infield. Kelley charged the ball in right field and delivered a perfect throw to Stepan at the plate to easily retire Gates.
After that, the Lutes got only two runners as far as second base, but Torgerson and his defense were up to the task.
The Bearcats finished the game with 12 hits, including two each by Giza, Rowan, Stepan and Kelley, and they also collected four steals in six attempts.
Gates had a single and double and was the only PLU batter to manage more than one hit.
Pacific Lutheran returns to action at noon on Tuesday when it hosts the Concordia Cavaliers in a non-conference doubleheader.
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