TACOMA – The Pacific Lutheran offense erupted for 31 hits and 19 runs as the Lutes swept a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader against cross-town rival Puget Sound. PLU won the first game 11-7 before claiming the second contest 9-3.
The Lutes finished the day with a .392 batting average across the two games, tallying 31 hits in 79 at bats. Drew Oord tallied a team-best five hits in the two games – including three doubles – with four runs scored and three batted in. Curtis Wildung went 3-for-4 in the opener with three doubles and a pair of runs batted in, while Jacob Bockelie tallied four hits, four runs batted in and three runs scored.
Jacob Clements also had four hits in the two games with three runs scored. Landon Packard, Ben Welch, Collin Nilson and Connor Cantu all finished the day with three hits, with Packard driving in a trio of runs. On the mound, Chris Bishop picked up his fifth win of the season in the opener, limiting Puget Sound to two runs on four hits in six innings with eight strikeouts. Kyle Rossman picked up the win in the second game, throwing eight innings while allowing three runs.
PLU jumped all over UPS starter Steve Wagar in the first game of the day. The Lutes scored two runs in the first inning and added three in the top of the second. The first-inning rally came entirely with two outs, as Packard and Nilson singled and Tyler Thompson walked to load the bases. Welch dropped a single into center field to score Nilson and Packard and give PLU an early 2-0 lead.
The Lutes added three more on five hits in the top of the second. Oord led off with a single, and infield singles by Cantu and Bockelie loaded the bases with one out. Packard singled down the right field line to score two, and one out later Thompson pushed a single through the left side to give the Lutes a five-run lead.
PLU seemed to put the game away in the top of the sixth with four more runs to take a 9-0 lead. Oord led off with a double and Wildung reached on a fielder's choice that left both runners safe on the corners. Cantu singled to third base to put two on and bring home a run, and Bockelie followed with a double to score two. He advanced to third on a single by Nilson and scored on a fielder's choice by Thompson.
Puget Sound worked its way back into the game with seven runs in the final four innings, with the big hit coming off the bat of Layne Croney. The UPS shortstop hit a two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth to put the Loggers on the board. After consecutive doubles by Oord and Wildung added another run for the Lutes in the top of the seventh, UPS tacked on three more in the bottom of the inning to pull within five at 10-5.
The Loggers scored a run in each of the final two innings, but PLU added one more in the top of the ninth as Clements led off with a double and Wildung's third two-bagger brought him home.
PLU finished the opener with seven doubles and 19 total hits, but the Lute offense wasn't done. They added 12 more hits – including one double – to score eight runs in the second game to close out the sweep.
PLU got on the board with two runs in the top of the second. Thompson led off with a walk and stole second and scored on a fielding error. Oord followed with a double to center to score Clements after he stole second. Cantu and Bockelie walked to load the bases, but the Lutes left runners at every base while taking the 2-0 lead.
Three more runs crossed the plate in the top of the fourth for the Lutes. Bo Pearson and Cantu led off with consecutive singles, and Pearson scored on a single by Bockelie. Packard scored Cantu on a sacrifice fly to right, and Nilson singled up the middle to bring Bockelie home for a 5-0 PLU lead.
Puget Sound picked up its first two runs in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of singles by Nickolas Alarcio, and Nathan Backes, a double by Chris Zerio and a sacrifice fly by Bobby Hosmer. But the Lutes responded with two more in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of three UPS errors. Clements, Oord and Bockelie all singled, with Oord and Bockelie each driving in a run.
The Loggers got their final run of the day in the bottom of the seventh. Four UPS singles made it 7-3 and left the bases loaded as Rossman worked his way out of the jam with a fly ball to right. PLU tacked on one more run in the top of the ninth as Thompson walked and worked his way to third following a single by Clements before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Oord.
PLU improved to 22-8 overall and 14-6 in conference play, while UPS fell to 15-17 overall and 13-10 in the NWC. The Lutes maintain a one-game lead over Linfield and Whitworth for first place in the conference standings, and will go for their first series sweep of the season Sunday at 12 p.m.