Written by Student Assistant Sarah Cornell-Maier
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team started off their weekend series on a sour note on Saturday, stranding 13 runners on base in a 6-1 setback to host Linfield College at Roy Helser Field. The second game of the day was postponed until Sunday due to inclement weather, but not before the Lutes gave up a run in the first inning.
The Lutes (7-3, 5-2 Northwest Conference) had command of the game defensively for the first five innings, giving up no runs and only two hits. Senior Jacob Gleichman started on the pitcher's mound, striking out two batters in his six innings of duty. The infield showed command of the game, combining for 10 of the 15 outs in the first five innings. Seniors Ben Welch, Cole Johnson, and Landon Packard each recorded double plays, with Packard collecting 2 on the game.
The first runs of the game came in the bottom of the 6th inning with a two-run home run by Linfield (7-4, 5-2 NWC).
"In the 6th inning when they hit the home run, it was what I think was my only 'mistake pitch' all day," said Gleichman. "When that happens, you give them credit- they hit a pitch they practice to hit, there's nothing you can do about that."
The eighth inning proved to be a struggle for the Lutes defensively, surrendering two hits and a walk before two unearned runs came in on an error. Linfield added two more runs in the frame to take a 6-0 lead.
"It was a close game until the eighth inning. I thought Gleichman threw well," Head Coach Nolan Soete said. "We just didn't compete very well offensively. We needed some two out hits and we didn't get it done."
The Lutes offense struggled throughout the game, only racking up four hits during the entire game, including two off the bat of Cole Johnson. Several batters reached the bases as a result of eight walks by the Linfield pitching lineup, but by the end of the game 13 players were left on base due to a lack of two out hits by the Lutes.
"As a group we're pretty frustrated with the game, but we'll be fine," said senior Cole Johnson. "The team deals with high left-on-base percentages by simply playing better. If we play well as a unit, the wins will happen more often."
The Lutes showed promise in the ninth inning as junior Connor Cantu reached 1st base on an error, and a walk for senior Ben Welch put two runners on base for senior Kory VanderStaay. VanderStaay hit a long sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Cantu to score, but it wasn't enough to bring the Lutes back into the game.
In the second game of the day, freshman pitcher Chad Gideon started on the mound. He struck out his first batter, but an unlucky pitch led to a solo home run for Linfield. The Lutes managed to limit the Wildcats to the single run before the game was postponed due to heavy rain.
The Lutes are looking to redeem themselves against Linfield as they resume their second game tomorrow at noon.
"Today we just struggled at the plate offensively. That's going to happen," said Gleichman. "We're looking to take two tomorrow and get back to playing the game we know we can play as a team."
Game two of the series will resume at noon tomorrow with game three to follow the conclusion of the suspended game.