ORANGE, Calif. - Pacific Lutheran rallied from three runs down in the late innings and then got a two-out, run-scoring single in the 11th inning from Curtis Wildung to beat Chapman, 10-9, in a non-conference baseball game played Sunday afternoon at Hart Park.
The victory not only improved PLU's overall record to 17-8, it also allowed the team to win three of the four games in the series against Chapman, which was the 2011 Division III national runner-up. The Panthers have struggled this year, however, and are now 11-16 for the season.
PLU put together a perfect inning for the winning rally. Jaron Iwakami led off the 11th with a single and then went to second on Bo Pearson's sacrifice bunt. A ground out by Sammy Davis moved Iwakami to third from where Wildung hit a two-ball pitch into center for what proved to be the winning run.
The Lutes needed a big inning and clutch relief pitching from Jacob Otness to even get into a position to win the game.
Though PLU had built an early 6-0 lead, they trailed 9-6 entering the top of the eighth inning. Wildung led off with a single, and one out later Dominick Courcy followed with a base hit. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, but with two outs the rally seemed on the verge of dying. Instead, Jacob Hoffman hit a single through the left side of the infield, scoring both runner. Hoffman got to second on a wild pitch and scored on Iwakami's base hit to right-center field.
Otness, PLU's fourth-and-final pitcher, entered the game with one out and a runner on second in the eighth inning. He retired two straight batters to get out of that jam, and then used a big strikeout to end Chapman's ninth inning with the bases loaded. The Lutes turned a double play behind him in the 10th, and in the 11th he coaxed a third out grounder with the tying run on third base.
Otness allowed no runs on two hits while walking two and striking out three.
Nathan Eisenhauer started the game and was cruising along with a 6-0 lead until getting knocked from the mound in Chapman's six-run fourth inning. He hit two batters and walked another, and the Panthers had three clutch hits in the uprising.
The Panthers played add-on, scoring single runs in the next three innings to take their 9-6 lead into the eighth. That's when the game turned in PLU's favor.
The Lutes collected 17 hits in the game led by Corey Moore with four, and they also had five stolen bases. The top three hitters in the lineup - Courcy, Moore and Hoffman - combined to go 9-for-17 with five runs scored and six RBI. Iwakami, hitting fifth, was 3-for-5, and Jacob Olsufka added two hits in a rare start.
The Lutes now turn their attention back to Northwest Conference play, and to a big three-game series next Friday and Saturday at defending champion Linfield. The teams play a doubleheader starting at noon on Friday and a single nine-inning game beginning at noon on Saturday.
- PLU -