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March 4, 2012

PLU Comes Back With a Vengeance, Sweeps Willamette

SALEM, Ore. - After giving away a late lead and dropping Saturday's opening game of a three-game Northwest Conference baseball series with Willamette at John Lewis Field, Pacific Lutheran came back with a vengeance on Sunday, sweeping the Bearcats 9-6 and 11-4.

The Lutes are now 7-5 overall and 2-1 in the conference, while Willamette falls to 3-10 overall and 1-2 in the NWC.

Frustrated by losing a game it probably should have won, Pacific Lutheran busted out the bats to the tune of 32 hits and 20 runs against the Willamette pitching staff. Brock Gates continued his outstanding hitting, going 5-for-9 with three runs scored and four runs batted in, while Corey Moore had four hits and four runs batted in during the doubleheader. PLU clubbed four home runs in Sunday's opener, including two by Jacob Hoffman and one each by Gates and Curtis Wildung. For Wildung, a freshman catcher, it was his first collegiate homer.

Pacific Lutheran also got solid pitching from a total of six pitchers. Collin Nilson, the second of four pitchers - all freshmen - in the opener, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to get his first victory. He allowed just one hit while walking none and striking out three. AJ Konopaski was perfect in 1 1/3 inning and got the game to Trevor Lubking, who came back from a tough Saturday outing to earn the save with a scoreless ninth inning.

In the second game, senior Nathan Eisenhauer survived his own wildness to pick up the win and improve his record to 2-0. Eisenhauer allowed only two hits while fanning seven in 6 1/3 innings, but he walked seven and those factored into the four earned runs that he allowed. Another freshman, Austin Taylor, got the Lutes out of trouble in the bottom of the seventh and finished the game, allowing no runs on four hits with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

First Game - PLU 9, Willamette 6

Willamette got to starter Jacob Otness for three runs on four hits in the first inning, but the freshman right-hander kept PLU in the game until his offense got going. The Lutes got a run in the second on Hoffman's homer to left-centerfield, and then added four more in the fourth. Wildung blasted a two-run shot to right, Jaron Iwakami hit a run-scoring double, and Moore finished the rally with a RBI single.

Trailing 6-5 entering the top of the sixth, Pacific Lutheran scored four times over the next three innings to put the game away. Hoffman hit his second homer of the game, and season, in the sixth, and Gates added a two-run shot after a Sammy Davis single in the seventh. Davis drove in the final run of the game with a single in the eighth.

Second Game - PLU 11, Willamette 4

After using the power game to good effect in the opener, the Lutes pretty much singled the Bearcats to death in the rubber game of the series. They finished with 20 hits in the contest, including three each from Dominick Courcy and Moore, and two apiece from Frost, Gates, Markus McClurkin, Bo Pearson and Ethan Ottemiller. Courcy scored three runs in the leadoff spot, while Moore collected three RBI and Pearson two more.

Pacific Lutheran got to the Bearcats early, jumping out to an 8-0 lead, including a five-run second inning. Pearson and Ottemiller had singles around Hoffman being hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Moore hit a single to center field to drive in two run. Davis added a run-scoring infield base hit, Frost delivered the fourth run with a sacrifice fly, and Gates ended the scoring with a RBI double.

Pearson drove in two with a single in the fourth, Moore had run-scoring single and Courcy a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Nicholas Hall ended the scoring by driving in a run in the ninth with a base hit.

- PLU -