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February 27, 2012

Lutes Lose to Saints on Unearned Run in 12th Inning

LACEY - Mario Sanelli was hit on the foot by a pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 12th inning, forcing in the winning run and giving Saint Martin's a 3-2 non-conference baseball win over Pacific Lutheran on Monday night at Regional Athletic Complex.

The Saints, 3-12 this season, beat the Lutes for the second straight day with an unearned run and won two of the three games played between the teams over a three-day period. Pacific Lutheran has a 5-4 overall record.

The game started at 5 p.m. and by the time it ended after 8 p.m. the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees. The fact that it ended with an unearned run and with a controversial finish only made matters worse for the Lutes.

Jacob Otness, who had been brilliant in relief from the fifth inning on, allowed consecutive two-out singles in the bottom of the 12th inning. He was lifted in favor of relief ace Ryan Frost, who came to the mound from third base, a move which also brought Nicholas Hall into the game. The next batter, left-handed hitting Josh Grenier, cued a grounder to Hall, and the ball spun off his glove for an error.

That brought Sanelli to the plate. On a 1-1 count, he took a half swing on a ball that hit his foot. Though PLU head coach Geoff Loomis protested that Sanelli took a swing, the umpiring crew ruled it a no swing, giving Sanelli the hit by pitch and the Saints the winning run.

Both teams wasted opportunities to end the game after nine innings, and in a couple of innings thereafter, until Saint Martin's finally did the job.

PLU opened the scoring in the third inning when Jaron Iwakami tripled and scored on a passed ball. Saint Martin's came right back with a pair of runs against Pacific Lutheran starter Kipp Godfrey, who scuffled his way through four innings. Godfrey walked the first two batters in the third, balked them up a base, and then allowed a run-scoring single and RBI ground out.

Godfrey gave up two earned runs on four hits and four walks in his four innings of work.

The Lutes tied the game with a run in the sixth inning. With one out, pinch hitter Curtis Wildung hit a single and then moved to second on a passed ball. With two out, Corey Moore legged out an infield single, and when the throw got past Sanelli over at first base, Wildung scored.

Saint Martin's left the potential winning run on third base in the bottom of the eighth, while three consecutive strikeouts ended a PLU 11th inning that started with the first two batters reaching base. In the top of the 12th, Brock Gates and Frost hit singles and Wildung walked, but a ground out ended that threat.

Otness, a freshman from Gresham, Ore., spotted his fastball and mixed in an excellent breaking ball to pitch 7 2/3 stellar innings. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and ended up allowing only the one unearned run on three hits while walking one and striking out three. Still, he took the loss and is now 0-1 this season.

The Lutes out-hit the Saints, 9-7, including two each by Gates and Wildung, but they also left 15 runners on base.

PLU opens Northwest Conference play next weekend with a three-game series at Willamette University. The teams have a Saturday doubleheader starting at 11 a.m., and conclude the series with a single game at noon on Sunday.

- PLU -