SALEM, Ore. - Leading by five runs with three innings left to play on Saturday, Pacific Lutheran gave up three runs in the seventh and three in the ninth as Willamette took a 9-8 victory in the Northwest Conference baseball opener for both teams at John Lewis Field.
The Lutes suffered their third straight loss and are now 5-5 for the season, while Willamette improves to 3-8 after the victory.
PLU was all over the Bearcats in the first four innings, building a 7-2 lead. Willamette got one back in the fifth and then tallied three more in the seventh to make the score 7-6. The Lutes scored a run in the eighth inning and held an 8-6 lead entering the bottom of the ninth but gave up three runs without the ball being hit out of the infield. PLU allowed two walks, a bunt single, two more intentional walks, and finally on a wild pitch, to account for Willamette's comeback.
The Lutes scored single runs in each of the first three innings before breaking loose for four runs in the fourth.
Ethan Ottemiller hit a single and came in on a Brock Gates single in the first, and Jaron Iwakami led off with a single and later scored on Dominick Courcy's sacrifice fly in the second. In the third, Gates drew a walk and scored on Bo Pearson's two-out triple.
Willamette had stayed close with single runs in the first and third, but PLU got some separation with its big fourth inning. With the bases loaded an no outs, Ryan Frost hit a two-run single to right field to make the score 5-2. Gates drew a walk to reload the bases, and Curtis Wildung also walked to force in the third run of the frame. Iwakami drove in the final run with a fielder's choice, but the Lutes ended up leaving two runners in scoring position.
Trailing 7-3, the Bearcats started their comeback with three runs in the seventh inning via two hits, a walk, two hit batters and a sacrifice fly. PLU got one back in the top of the eighth when Frost walked, Gates singled and Pearson collected a run-scoring two-out base hit.
That set up the ninth inning when Willamette benefitted from PLU's largesse.
Both teams finished the game with 11 hits. Gates had three hits and both Pearson and Sammy Davis collected two apiece for the Lutes, who got two RBI apiece from Frost and Pearson. Tiras Koon and Brandon Chinn both had three hits for Willamette.
Blake Evetts, the final of four Willamette pitchers, had a flawless ninth inning to collect the victory. Trevor Lubking, also PLU's fourth pitcher, gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. He allowed one hit, walked four and struck out four.
The two teams conclude their three-game NWC series with a doubleheader on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
- PLU -