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February 24, 2012

Baseball Opens Home Schedule

THIS WEEKEND: The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team will play its first home game of the 2012 season Saturday when they host visiting Saint Martin's University in the first of a three-game series. The Lutes come into the weekend 4-2 after going 3-1 in the Arizona Desert Classic last weekend. First pitch on Saturday is set for 1 p.m. The series continues with single games scheduled for Sunday and Monday. Sunday the Lutes travel to Lacey with a 1 p.m. start time. The series finale on Monday is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

OPENING THE FLOOD GATES: Despite playing in only six games thus far, senior first baseman Brock Gates is among the offensive statistical leaders in the Northwest Conference. His .379 batting average is good for 10th in the NWC while his eight RBI place him in a fifth-place tie. Gates currently leads the Lutes in hits, doubles, RBI and total bases.

SCOUTING THE SAINTS: The Saint Martin's Saints come into the three-game set with the Lutes at 1-11 this year, though eight of the losses have come in a pair of four-game sets against two nationally ranked opponents. Their lone triumph came last Sunday in a 7-6 victory over Central Washington University. The sluggish start for the Saints can largely be attributed to struggles on the bump. Saint Martin's pitching staff has a collective ERA of 10.55 while giving up 7.5 BB/HBP per contest. Offensively for the Saints, Travis Shaw is the lone player hitting above .300 with a batting average of .302. Shaw's 13 hits and four doubles lead the team in both categories. Saint Martin's is hitting .214 as a team.

SERIES HISTORY: Pacific Lutheran is 8-2 against the Saints dating back to 2006. Last season the Lutes split two games with Saint Martin's, losing the first game 10-1 and winning the second game 5-1. PLU holds an 18-17 edge over the Saints in the all-time series.

LAST WEEKEND: After losing the first contest in Happy Valley, Ariz., Pacific Lutheran rebounded in a big way, winning their final three games of the Arizona Desert Classic. In the first game the Lutes fell to the University of Texas at Dallas 13-6. Pacific Lutheran took a 1-0 in lead in top of the first inning on a two-out double by Brock Gates that plated Jacob Hoffman. The lead was short lived however as UTD scored twelve runs in the second, third and fourth innings. With the game out of reach Brock Gates added a solo shot to right center in the top of the sixth inning. In the ninth inning Jaron Iwakami drove in two with a double to right field and Sammy Davis added a two run four bagger of his own. In the second game of the trip PLU handled McMurry 15-2. Kipp Godfrey struck out seven in six innings of work en route to his first victory of the season. PLU finished with 16 hits and Ethan Ottemiller, Brock Gates and Sammy Davis each had a three hit day. Leading 7-2 PLU broke the game open in the seventh inning scoring eight runs. Nine consecutive batters reached base safely to lead off the inning. The third game proved to me a much closer contest but the Lutes were able to prevail 4-3 over La Verne in 11 innings. Chris Bishop gave up two earned runs in seven innings on the hill for the Lutes giving way to AJ Konopaski who pitched a scoreless eighth. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the tenth the Lutes had the bases loaded with nobody out. La Verne's bullpen however was able to keep the Lutes from scoring the winning run. In the bottom of the eleventh inning Ryan Frost proved the hero hitting a two out single to score Dominick Courcy who was racing from second. Frost also threw three innings in relief to record his first victory of the season. PLU took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Jacob Hoffman and sacrifice fly by Alec Beal before La Verned tied it up the next frame. With a plane trip later that evening, the Lutes made quick work of the Whitter Poets in the last game of the trip winning by a final tally of 11-4. Starter Nathan Eisenhauer didn't give up an earned run in six innings earning his first victory of the season. Pacific Lutheran scored single runs in the second, third and fifth before plating three in the sixth and five in the seventh. Dominick Courcy finished the day 3 for 4 scoring three times and two RBI. Pacific Lutheran finished with 15 hits. 

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