THIS WEEKEND: The Pacific Lutheran baseball team wraps up its 2012 schedule with a non-conference, three game tournament in McMinnville, Ore. against George Fox, Linfield, and Lewis-Clark State. Last weekend the Lutes watched Pacific celebrate a co-conference championship on their home field, dropping two of three games to the Boxers. Pacific's last conference championship came in 1979 when they shared the title with Linfield and Willamette. The Lutes finished their Northwest Conference slate in third place at 16-8, three games back of Pacific and Whitworth. The Lutes play George Fox on Friday at 6:30, Linfield at 3:30 on Saturday, and conclude their season against Lewis-Clark State at noon on Sunday.
AMONG THE GREATS: Senior Brock Gates has the chance to break a couple PLU single season records this weekend. Gates needs only four hits to break his own record of hits in a season with 68 set in 2010. Gates also needs six RBI to set the single season record. The record is currently held by former third baseman Ben Shively who drove in 51 runs in 2009. Scoring 43 runs this season, Gates trails PLU single season run scoring leader Jay Chennault by only seven runs. Chennault touched the plate 50 times in 1999. Opposing pitching has shown a strong disliking pitching the Gates this season. The slugger has been hit 12 times, tying him for seventh all-time.
SENIOR FAREWELL: Along with Gates, the Lutes baseball program will part ways with seven other seniors. Second baseman Corey Moore, outfielder Jaron Iwakami, pitcher Nathan Eisenhauer, pitcher/infielder Ryan Frost, catchers Ethan Ottemiller and Zack Halverson, and shortstop Sammy Davis (whose season ended with a shoulder injury two and a half weeks ago) will all be playing their final games in the PLU black and yellow.
LUBKING FINISHING STRONG: The freshman starter is 3-0 over his last three starts with a 1.61 ERA. Lubking has allowed only eight hits over 22.1 innings of work and has struck out 31. The southpaw is now 5-3 on the season with a 3.61 ERA over a team best 62.1 innings of work. Lubking's 70 strikeouts are second most amongst all NWC pitchers. Dan Scheibe leads the NWC with 78 punch outs.
SCOUTING GEORGE FOX: The Bruins finished its 2012 NWC campaign in fourth place at 19-18, 15-9 in the NWC. Due to poor field conditions, the Bruins did not play a single game on their home field this season. The Bruins were idol last weekend after sweeping Linfield two weekends ago in their NWC finale. The Lutes took two of three games from the Bruins at home in mid-April. On the hill the Bruins are led by ace Brian Ranta who is 6-1 on the season with a 2.16 ERA over 83.1 innings. On April 14 Ranta picked up a no-decision against the Lutes giving up three runs, two earned, and scattering eight hits over 7.1 innings. At the plate the Bruins are paced by Danny Clifford. Clifford is hitting .354 on the season and leads the Bruins in at bats (144), hits (51), home runs (6), RBI (30), and total bases (82). As a team the Bruins are hitting .287.
SCOUTING LINFIELD: After winning the NWC outright last season, the Wildcats finished its 2012 NWC campaign in fifth place at 22-15, 15-9 in the NWC. The Wildcats come into the weekend after dropping two of three games to Lewis-Clark State last weekend in Lewiston, Idaho. Linfield took two of three games from the Lutes in McMinnville, Ore. in early April. Winning the third game of the series, the Lutes snapped a nine game losing streak to Linfield. Ryan Larson leads the Wildcats on the hill at 6-2 with a conference best 2.09 ERA. Opponents are hitting a lowly .223 off Larson who has thrown a team high 77.1 innings. Tim Wilson leads the Wildcat offense with the third best batting average in the NWC at .394. Wilson also leads the team in games started (36), at bats (155), runs (33), hits (61), doubles (16), and has stolen a conference best 20 bases. Linfield is hitting .282 as a team.
SCOUTING LEWIS-CLARK STATE: That NAIA power house has put together another strong season winning the NAIA West at 39-11, 25-6 in conference, and winners of 19 of their last 22 games. The Lutes fell to the Warriors 5-4 last season in the same tournament played in Lewiston, Idaho. Dating back to 1981, the Lutes are 2-25 against the Warriors. Since 2008, 16 Warriors have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Current Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan was drafted out of Lewis-Clark State in the seventh round of the 2003 MLB Draft. Michael Noteware leads the staff at 9-1 with a 1.73 ERA over a team best 72.2 innings. The Warriors own a team ERA of 3.08. At the dish opposing pitchers are forced to pick their poison with nine regulars hitting over .300. The Warriors are hitting .322 as a team and have hit 39 home runs. Alfonso Casillas is putting together a monstrous year hitting .369 while hitting 17 doubles, driving in 59, and hitting 10 home runs.
PLU 12, PACIFIC 3: Pitcher of the Year candidate Rob Dittrick was roughed up by the Lutes offense giving up 10 runs, nine earned, on 12 hits in only 3.1 innings of work. Trevor Lubking was sharp for his third straight start allowing just one earned run on two hits in seven innings of work. AJ Konopaski threw the final two innings for the Lutes. The first five PLU hitters of the game reached base safely en route to a five run first. The Lutes led 10-1 after four innings of play. As a team the Lutes finished with 19 hits. Nicholas Hall was 4-5 with four RBI. Corey Moore and Jacob Hoffman each chipped in three hits.
PACIFIC 13, PLU 5: Trailing 6-5 into the top half of the eighth, the Lutes bullpen was roughed up for seven runs in the final two frames. Jared Van Hoon shut down the Lutes out of Pacific's bullpen pitching a scoreless final five innings. After allowing a run in the top of the first inning, the Lutes tied the game on perfectly executed first and third double steal. With Jacob Hoffman on third, Gates drew a throw as he stole second, and Hoffman touched the plate on the throw down the second. Curtis Wildung drove in Gates a couple pitches later to give the Lutes a 2-1 lead. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth, the Lutes tied the game on an RBI single by Jaron Iwakami that plated Hoffman. The Boxers scored a single run in the seventh before jumping on the Lutes bullpen in the eighth and ninth. Hoffman finished 2-4 with three runs. Ryan Frost added two hits of his own to the team total of eight. A large crowd of 406 watched the Lutes split the Saturday doubleheader.
PACIFIC 9, PLU 5: Pacific's leadoff man reached base safely every inning with the exception of the seventh and eight innings. As a result the only innings the Boxers didn't score in were the second, seventh and eighth innings. Owning a 2-1 lead, Pacific scored four times in the top of the fourth. The scoring started with a sacrifice fly, continued with a bases-loaded walk, and concluded with a two-out, two-run single. Trailing 8-3 in the seventh inning, the Lutes loaded the bases with two outs but were unable to score after Wildung's sharp one-hopper was snared by Pacific's first baseman. In the eighth the Lutes loaded the bases again, this time without recording an out. After an RBI single by Bo Pearson to draw the score to 8-4, Van Hoon took the ball for the second straight game. Van Hoon allowed only one more run to score after striking out two and coaxing a run scoring ground-out. The Lutes went down in order in the bottom of the ninth and watched Pacific celebrate a co-conference championship on their home field. Another large crowd of 408 watched the series finale. Pearson and Hoffman were the only Lutes to have multi-hit days each finishing 2-4. The Lutes finished with seven hits as a team.