PLU Baseball Headed South For Spring Break
THIS WEEKEND: Fresh off a three game series sweep of cross town rival University of Puget Sound, the Pacific Lutheran baseball team heads south to Orange, Calif. for a four game non-conference series with 2011 national runner-up Chapman. Ranked No. 2 in the D3baseball.com preseason poll the Panthers have struggled on their way to a 10-14 mark and are currently unranked. The Lutes sit at 14-7 overall with a 9-3 record in the Northwest Conference, good for third place. For the first time this season the Lutes have made an appearance in the national poles showing up in the "others receiving votes" section of the NCAA Collegiate Baseball Rankings. The complete national rankings can be seen at http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/baseball/d3. The four game series begins Friday with a single game at 7 p.m. The two teams will play a double header the following day starting at 1 p.m. and play the series finale Sunday with a single game at noon.
HOFFMAN GOING WILD: In the series sweep of UPS, sophomore Jacob Hoffman raised his batting average .073 points from .250 to .323 en route to earning NWC Offensive Player of the Week Honors. Hoffman finished the weekend 8 for 14 with four doubles and seven RBI. Hoffman's 20 RBI on the season are tied for ninth in the NWC with teammate Corey Moore and his five stolen bases are second best on the team.
GATES HITTING STREAK OVER: After collecting hits in 21 consecutive games dating back to the 2011 season, Brock Gates' hitting streak came to close in the series finale on Sunday. Going 0 for 4 in his first four at bats, Gates saw his hitting streak end from the on-deck circle when Jacob Hoffman popped up in the infield with two outs in the home half of the eighth. "I really didn't think about the streak too much until this weekend which is probably why it's now over," Gates joked. "Now it's time to shoot for a big streak in our teams win column."
'COLLINSANITY' CONTINUES: If the shoe fits, until the clock strikes midnight, David defeating Goliath. Every cliché in the book could be used to describe freshman Collin Nilson's rise to NWC dominance. After starting the season buried in the Lutes bullpen, the live armed righty was given a start against Whitman on Mar. 11 and "the rest was history," as they say. Nilson is yet to give up an earned run in 27.1 IP including three starts. Last weekend Nilson gave up only two hits in eight shut out innings against UPS. Nilson is tied with two other pitchers in the country who also have a 0.00 ERA. Isaac Forman of Skidmore has 16.1 IP while Judson McKown of Central (IA) has 18.2 IP.
SCOUTING CHAPMAN'S OFFENSE: The Panthers are averaging scoring just under 5.1 runs per contest while hitting .268 as a team. Junior James Parr, one of three Panthers to start every game this year, leads Chapman with a .349 average. Last season Parr was selected to second team All-Independents and was selected to all-tournament teams in the West Region Championships and the National Championships. As a team the Panthers are stealing bases at just over a 50 percent clip stealing 20 bases in 37 attempts.
SCOUTING CHAPMAN'S STAFF: On the bump the Panthers are led by two time All-American junior Brian Rauh. In his three seasons with Chapman, Rauh has compiled a 25-1 record, losing the first decision of his college career earlier this season. Rauh is 3-1 this year with a 1.72 ERA in 47.0 IP. Rauh has compiled 56 strikeouts over that time. As a team Chapman has amassed a 3.56 ERA. The other two starters for the Panthers have sub 2.50 ERA's as well. Travis McGee (3-2) owns a 2.06 ERA over 43.2 IP while Ben Levitt (1-4) possesses a 2.48 ERA over 32.2 IP. Opponents are hitting a lowly .228 against the Panthers.
DEFENSIVE WOES: A large contributor to the sub .500 showing from Chapman thus far this season is problems with the leather. As a team, the Panthers are fielding .945. To put that in perspective the Lutes are fielding .962, good for a three way tie for second in the NWC. Chapman's .945 would be tied for sixth in the NWC.
SERIES HISTORY: Chapman and PLU have only met five times in the history of both programs. The Lutes are 1-4 in those meetings. PLU lost two of three games to Chapman in the West Region Championships in 2007.
PLU 15, UPS 5: In the series opener the Lutes scored single runs in the second and third inning before plating six in the fourth to break the game open. With a 19 game hitting streak on the line, Brock Gates hit a two out grand slam in the bottom of the eight to push the streak to 20 games. Jacob Hoffman finished the game going three for six with three doubles and four RBI. Collin Nilson gave up only two hits in eight shutout innings pushing his record to 4-0 on the season.
PLU 6, UPS 0: Nathan Eisenhauer was nearly flawless allowing only two hits, striking out five in a complete game shutout. The victory improved Eisenhauer's season record to 4-1. Hoffman led the Lutes going three for four with two RBI. Chris Bishop, known more for his pitching prowess this season, went two for four while collecting three RBI. The game lasted only two hours and three minutes.