Baseball Sets Sights on Home Opener
PLU FINDS WINNING FORMULA IN OREGON: The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team picked up three wins in four games at last weekend's Cascade Northwest Challenge in Wilsonville, Oregon. While splitting a pair of games with Concordia (Ore.) University, the Lutes picked up wins against Oregon Tech and Corban College to end the weekend with a 3-1 record. The three wins take PLU's record to 4-5 on the 2011 season. Outscoring their opponents 25-13 on the weekend, PLU appears to be closing in on the way they want to be playing as conference play nears. Junior Ryan Frost turned in the offensive performance of the weekend in the Lutes 11-3 win over Corban on Saturday. The third-basemen went 3-4, hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning en route to a six RBI day. "The good news is that we had four solid starting pitching efforts and made only one error in each game defensively," PLU head coach Geoff Loomis said. "We played our style of baseball this weekend, which is a step in the right direction."
STRONG PITCHING PERFORMANCES: Following a tough weekend the week before in Arizona, the Lutes starting pitching staff came back admirably in Oregon with strong performances throughout the weekend. Four starters combined for six earned runs over a total of 30 innings. In the weekend's opening game, sophomore Max Beatty, last week's NWC Pitcher of the Week, threw six strong innings of shutout baseball to earn his second win of the season. Saturday afternoon against tournament host Concordia, senior Scott Wall went the distance, striking out eight and walking none while giving up two runs. Junior Nathan Eisenhauer got the start for the Lutes in Sunday's matchup with Oregon Tech. Eisenhauer earned his first win on the year, tossing seven strong innings, striking out eight and giving up one run. The weekend's strong pitching efforts were completed when Ryan Frost threw eight innings, surrendering three earned runs against Concordia.
LUTES KICK OFF HOME SCHEDULE: PLU returns home this weekend to open its home schedule against the Saint Martins University Saints in a doubleheader beginning Saturday morning. The first game is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. Saturday's games against Saint Martin's will be the first chance fans can utilize the new grandstands constructed in the off-season. The new grandstands, stretching from dugout to dugout, provide seating for 538 people. To view photos of the construction of the new grandstands, click here. Sunday, the Lutes and Saints will play again, this time at St. Martins in Lacey, Wash. Game time is set for noon.
SCOUTING THE SAINTS: St. Martin's will come into this weekend's matchup with PLU holding a 2-9 record. However, one of SMU's wins came last weekend in the form of a 5-0 victory over NWC defending champion and 2011 conference favorite Linfield College. Senior LHP Casey Mitchell threw a complete-game shutout, striking out 12 in the Saints win. SMU has been struggling from the plate early in the 2011 season. Saint Martin's posts a team batting average of .207 through 11 games.
SERIES HISTORY: The Lutes and Saints have met 33 times in the series history between the two teams. PLU holds a slight advantage, winning 17 times compared to SMU's 16 wins. Currently, PLU is on a three-game win streak and has won seven out of the last eight.
CONFERENCE PLAY BEGINS IN MARCH: The Lutes open their 24-game Northwest Conference schedule the first weekend in March with a three-game series against George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. After two years of playing four games in a NWC series, the coaches elected to go back to three-game series between the teams. PLU and George Fox will play a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, and then conclude the series with a single nine-inning game beginning at 11 a.m. on March 6.
ONE MORE NON-CONFERENCE TILT: PLU has one more non-conference game on its schedule, traveling to Bellevue's Bannerwood Park on Tuesday, March 1, where it will face Seattle University. Bannerwood Park is the home field for the Division I Redhawks.