Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
SALEM, Ore. – For the first time this season, the 17th-ranked Pacific Lutheran University baseball team dropped both ends of a Northwest Conference doubleheader, falling 9-5 and 5-4 to host Willamette University on Saturday at John Lewis Field.
The Lutes (17-7, 15-5 NWC) fell short in game one by a score of 9-5 despite owning an early lead. PLU got on the board in the second inning when Jacob Bockelie started the inning with a leadoff single. Cole Johnson followed with a homer to right field, giving the Lutes a 2-0 lead.
Willamette (19-11, 12-5 NWC) was persistent offensively, scoring a run in every inning but the first and hitting four home runs. The game wasn't tied until the sixth inning. The dagger came when the Bearcats scored three runs in the seventh inning and PLU was unable to answer.
Game two was tightly contested with the Bearcats holding a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning. PLU led off the top of the ninth with two quick outs. Welch doubled down the left field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He would stay there, as Gosline was hit by a pitch, putting runners on the corners. Landon Packard was walked, loading up the bases for Kory VanderStaay. VanderStaay delivered a clutch two out, two run single, tying the game at 4-4.
The Bearcats answered in the bottom of the ninth with Perry Van Eckhardt belting a walkoff double to give the Bearcats the doubleheader sweep.
"It felt good to give us a chance," VanderStaay said. "There were a lot of huge at bats with two outs in the top of the ninth to get guys on base and give us an opportunity to extend the game."
"They played and coached better than we did today," Head Coach Nolan Soete said. "We definitely could have done a better job in all three phases of the game. We will be ready to compete at a higher level tomorrow."
The series concludes tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for noon.