Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – It took a total team effort from the Pacific Lutheran University baseball team to complete the sweep of Northwest Conference rival Lewis & Clark College on Sunday, doing so by a final score of 9-7.
The Lutes (7-2, 5-1 NWC) were behind before they even got a chance to bat, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. Ben Welch cut the lead in half with a lead off home run in the bottom of the first before the Lutes scored two runs in the bottom of the second with Connor Cantu hitting a triple to drive in Anthony Gosline and Cole Johnson.
The Lutes led 3-2 in the top of the third before the Pioneers (2-7, 2-4 NWC) exploded for four runs. PLU answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. It started when Welch scored on a wild pitch. Landon Packard singled in Casey Dawes. C. Johnson ripped a single up the middle for a base hit, scoring Packard and Jacob Bockelie.
The game was tied at seven in the eighth, when Matt Vick reached first base on error with two outs. Vick advanced to third on another error. He would go on to score on a wild pitch, giving the Lutes the lead. In the ninth, Packard would ground out to first, bringing Ben Welch for the insurance run. PLU would go on to win 9-7.
"It's awesome," Welch said. "Whenever you can get a sweep you love it. All league games count, no matter who you're playing. We put ourselves in a good spot coming up to Linfield and Whitworth in the next couple weeks."
The Lutes had to piece together a solid pitching performance after C. Johnson struggled early on. Chaz Lopez came on in relief, going two and two thirds innings, giving up four hits and three walk. He allowed one run, but struck out three. Tanner Zuber followed, going two and two thirds innings giving up one walk and one hit. He didn't give up a run, and picked up the win.
"Cole didn't have his best stuff," PLU Head coach Nolan Soete said. "Lopez came in and did okay. Zuber did really well. Really happy with how Zuber threw."
Tanner Williams was on to close. He walked a batter in an inning and a third on the mound. For the second day in a row, Williams helped the Lutes secure a win.
"It feels great to be a contributor to the team," Williams said. "I usually hit and play defense, but coming in on the bump is something we worked on and I'm glad we are seeing results and winning games."
"Willy built off yesterday's success, he did a really good job," Soete said. "He hasn't really pitched in his lifetime and for him to come out the last two days like he did, I'm really proud of him."
With the win, the Lutes move to first place on the Northwest Conference standings, with a 5-1 record.
"Lewis & Clark is a very good team," Soete said. "They can hit the ball, the play good defense. We knew coming into the day they were going to battle and give us a good game and they did. This league is wide open and when you have an opportunity to sweep a decent team, you have to take advantage of it."
PLU hits the road next weekend, traveling to McMinnville, Oregon for a three-game series against Linfield College.