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February 15, 2012

Baseball Heads To Arizona Desert Classic

THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team travels to Anthem, Ariz. this week to participate in the Arizona Desert Classic. PLU has already played two games this season and is off to a 1-1 start after splitting a twinbill with Concordia University (OR).

HISTORY AT THE DESERT CLASSIC: Pacific Lutheran's appearance at this year's Arizona Desert Classic will mark the third time in three years that the Lutes have traveled down to Anthem for this early season tournament. In the 2010 season, the Lutes went 4-0 at the classic, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 48-14. Last season, the Lutes struggled down south going 1-3 at the tournament and surrendering a staggering 37 runs in four games.

THE SCHEDULE

    Opponent Date Time (Pacific)
Pacific Lutheran Vs The University of Texas-Dallas 2/16 1 p.m.
Pacific Lutheran Vs McMurry University 2/17 1 p.m.
Pacific Lutheran Vs University of La Verne 2/18 12:30 p.m.
Pacific Lutheran Vs Whittier College 2/19 9 a.m.

FLYING WITH THE COMETS: The Lutes kick off their weekend Thursday afternoon with a mid-day matchup with the University of Texas-Dallas. The Comets are 1-2 on the young season. Outfielder Chase Brown and right-handed pitcher Derek Dallas are the keys that drive UT-Dallas in 2012. Through three games, Brown is hitting .375 and has two RBI while Dallas gave up five earned runs in six innings in his first appearance of the season. Last year, the Lutes and Comets met at the Desert Classic and UT-Dallas came away with a 15-14 victory. 

BATTLING THE WAR HAWKS: Friday afternoon, the Lutes square off with the McMurry University War Hawks. The War Hawks are 1-5 this season and picked up their lone with this past weekend during a three-game series with Friends University. Junior Andrew Bell is having a nice start to the 2012 season as the outfielder is batting .350 and has driven in a team-high three RBI. Friday afternoon's matchup between the two programs will be the first in the series history.

A LOOK AT THE LEOPARDS: The University of La Verne Leopards come into the Arizona Desert Classic with a 4-1 mark in 2012. La Verne is riding a three-game win streak and swept Cal Tech University in a home-and-home series last weekend. The Leopards high-powered offense this season has seen the team bat at a .402 average and through only five games, La Verne has already scored 63 runs. Last season, the Leopards took two games over PLU and hold a 4-3 advantage in the series history.

WRITING WITH THE POETS: A matchup with the Whittier College Poets Sunday morning closes out the Lutes four-game slate in Arizona. Whittier is 2-4 this season and is riding a 9-6 victory over Pomona-Pitzer College into the Desert Classic. Senior Corey Goodchild already has 10 RBI for the Poets and is hitting .458 on the season. The Lutes and Poets have met six times in the series history dating back to the 1994 season. The overall record falls in PLU's advantage at 3-2-1. In the 2008 season, the Pacific Lutheran and Whittier played to a 6-6 tie through nine innings as the game had to be called for darkness.  

LUTES LOSE BEATTY: Pacific Lutheran baseball enters the 2012 season after receiving some potentially devastating news regarding one of the Lutes' key players. Max Beatty, a junior right-handed pitcher, was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in December. After undergoing surgery, it was hoped the Max, ranked by Baseball America as the top Division III prospect in the upcoming professional baseball draft, would rejoin the team in February. However, cancer tracers were found in post-surgery blood work, and Max is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment. He has withdrawn from school in order to focus his attention on his treatment and as a result will not play for the Lutes this season. Baseball is put in its proper perspective for Beatty and the PLU coaches and team members. "The (Beatty) family has tried to stay positive and we've tried to stay positive," PLU head coach Geoff Loomis said regarding Max's treatment and recovery. "The baseball piece is secondary right now to Max regaining his health." Senior first baseman Brock Gates said, "We're a family, and he's one of our family members. We lost our biggest dominating force. We're going to have to find a way to adapt. It's not one person that is going to have to fill Max's shoes. We're going to have to do it as a team, find a way as a team to be competitive."

PLU 9, Concordia 1: Lubking, a left-handed freshman who a year ago earned first team all-state honors at White River High School in Buckley, had a stellar effort against Concordia. He gave up only two hits and one walk while striking out six batters. He retired the order in four times, and in the lone inning that the Cavaliers had a runner in scoring position against him, the second, Lubking ended the threat with a strikeout. The game was scoreless until PLU broke through with five runs in the top of the fourth inning. Corey Moore led off the inning with a single and came around two batters later on a pair of Concordia errors. Bishop, who reached on one of the errors, then scored on a wild pitch. Ethan Ottemiller followed with a run-scoring double. With two outs and runners on second and third, Hoffman hit a two-run double down left field line. The Lutes added three more runs in the seventh on three hits, including run-scoring singles by Brock Gates and Alec Beal, and the fourth Concordia error of the game. Pacific Lutheran added its final run in the top of the ninth when Beal's grounder scored Gates, who led off with a double. PLU finished with 11 hits, including two apiece by McClurkin and Gates. Nathan Eisenhauser, Jacob Otness and Ryan Frost all threw an inning in relief of Lubking. PLU head coach Geoff Loomis said that his freshmen starters "were excellent. The pitching staff in general was good. Lubking threw 70 pitches through six innings, and it doesn't get better than that. "We hit the ball hard all day and played a solid second game with no errors and only a couple walks. It was very encouraging," Loomis added.

Concordia 5, PLU 2: The Lutes collected 10 hits in the game but left nine runners on base, including five in scoring position. PLU took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on RBI singles by Curtis Wildung and Taylor Wattenberg, both making their first plate appearances for Pacific Lutheran. Wildung is a freshman catcher and Wattenberg is a junior transfer outfielder. In the meantime, freshman Chris Bishop was sharp in his first collegiate outing. He ended up going 4 2/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs on four hits while walking two and striking out seven. The two unearned runs came in the bottom of the fifth after the first two batters reached on PLU errors. Concordia scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Kipp Godfrey, who allowed the one run on two hits in 2 1/3 inning. Godfrey struck out three Concordia batters. AJ Konopaski finished for the Lutes, allowing the final two runs on three hits in the bottom of the eighth. The Lutes had several opportunities to tack on more runs but didn't get the clutch two-out hit. Jacob Hoffman and McClurkin both had a pair of hits to lead PLU's 10-hit attack, which was one more hit than the winning Cavaliers managed.

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