Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – The 2018 Northwest Conference Champion Pacific Lutheran University baseball team travels to California for a three-game series against reigning National Champion California Lutheran University and Pomona-Pitzer Colleges for the Lutes' final regular season games before hosting the NWC Tournament. The Lutes and Kingsmen play a single game on Friday before squaring off in a doubleheader on Saturday. Before venturing back to Washington, the team plays Pomona-Pitzer on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Lutes (19-12, 18-6 NWC) needed just one win over the weekend against George Fox University to secure the regular season Northwest Conference Crown. The did that and more, taking two of three from the Bruins, piling up their sixth conference series win of the year. The team is set to host the Northwest Conference Tournament for the first time since 2015.
"It's huge to be able to host the conference tournament," Senior infielder Anthony Gosline said. "Being in a familiar environment and on our home field in a way brings a sense of confidence and excitement."
Gosline played an integral part in the team's success throughout the season. Gosline shored up the team's defense, playing games at second base early in the year before moving back third, a position he played most of 2017. Gosline has had 116 total chances in the field, recording 36 putouts and 73 assists.
Offensively, the left-handed batter has spent a majority of the season near the top of the PLU lineup. Entering the weekend, Gosline is batting .371 with 46 hits, eight doubles, a triple, and a home run. The senior has knocked in 30 runs for the Lutes while scoring an additional 25.
Gosline has done an incredible job setting the table for the heart of the PLU batting order. In 2017, Gosline finished the season with 16 strikeouts and 13 walks. Near the end of the 2018 regular season, Gosline has walked 20 times while striking out just nine times.
"I've been trusting my plan going into my at bats," Gosline said. "I've been looking at pitch locations that I can drive and do damage with, and not swinging at pitches that the pitcher wants me to swing at."
Gosline and the rest of the PLU baseball team are set to fine tune their play with four games in California before the Northwest Conference Tournament. PLU battles California Lutheran at 3 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the two teams play a double header with game one starting at 11 a.m. Finally, PLU heads to Pomona-Pitzer for a single game at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
April 13: PLU vs. California Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, California (3 p.m.)
April 14: PLU vs. California Lutheran (DH) in Thousand Oaks, California (11 a.m.)
Series History: In a short 13-game history between PLU and Cal Lutheran, the Lutes hold a 7-5-1 record. The tie stems from a game in 2000, in which both teams could only muster a run before deciding they had had enough. In 2017, the Lutes swept the Kingsmen in a three-game series at PLU, outscoring their opponents 19-10 before CLU went on to win the national title.
About the Kingsmen: California Lutheran (17-14, 7-11 SCIAC) is struggling in its defense of the NCAA Division III National Title. The Kingsmen have played their best baseball at home, going 11-8 in Thousand Oaks, while going 4-5 on the road. In a three-game series against Linfield College to open the 2018 campaign, the Kingsmen took two of three from the Wildcats. Linfield took game one 8-7 in 10 innings. Cal Lutheran bounced back, taking games two and three 13-5 and 8-5.
The Kingsmen pitching staff is led by a pair of seniors. Nate Wehner has thrown the ball well for his team. Wehner has thrown 57 innings, to the tune of a 4.26 earned run average. He's been dominant, striking out 59 batters while walking just 12. Wehner is joined by Derek Galvin. Galvin has thrown 54 innings to the tune of a 4.17 ERA. He's struck out 46 batters, while giving up 18 free passes. Out of the pen, the Kingsmen turn to Justin Fong. Over 27 innings, Fong has struck out 27 batters while allowing a 2.67 ERA.
Ryan Yamashiro and Tanner Wright are prolific hitters in the California Lutheran lineup. Yamashiro leads the club with a .364 batting average. He's stroked seven doubles and driven in 23 runs. Wright has a .320 average, with seven doubles and three triples. Both a threat to steal a base, Weight has six steals and Yamashiro has five. Weston Clark supplies the pop for the Kingsmen, leading the team with two big flys.
April 15: PLU vs. Pomona-Pitzer in California at (11 a.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and the Sagehens have gone at it seven times on the diamond, with PLU holding a 4-3 record in that time. Under head coach Nolan Soete, PLU is 3-1. In 2017, the Lutes took two of three games from the Sagehens during the early portion of the season. Pomona-Pitzer took game one 11-10, before the Lutes bounced back with 7-3 and an 8-0 win in games two and three.
About the Sagehens: Pomona-Pitzer (20-9, 11-4 SCIAC) has played well throughout the 2018 season. The Sagehens take care of the coop, going 15-7 in games played at home. They've played several games against Northwest Conference opponents. In February, they split two games with Whitman College, taking the first game 12-3 before falling 8-2. Pomona-Pitzer beat Willamette University 7-4. Late in the month, the University of Puget Sound beat them 13-10. Coming into the weekend, the Sagehens swept a three-game series at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges.
Pomona-Pitzer's offense has been its strongest attribute all season long. Over 29 games, the team has scored 201 runs, averaging nearly seven runs per game. As a team, the Sagehens bat .301, with an on base percentage of .397. The team has swatted 20 home runs, helping boost their slugging percentage to .431. Jeremiah Quezada is a tough out, leading the club with a .381 batting average. He has 48 hits, including 11 doubles and four home runs. Quezada has driven in 27 runs for the Sagehens. Brian Knapp has smashed seven home runs.