Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team secured a series win against the reigning national champions in game one of a doubleheader against California Lutheran University 9-7 before falling 19-1 to the Kingsmen.
The Lutes (22-13) spotted the Kingsmen (18-16) four runs in the bottom half of the first inning before fighting their way back into the game. The PLU offense came alive in the fourth inning, plating five runs. Four of those five runs came off of the bat of Cole Johnson, as he smashed a grand slam to give the Lutes the lead. Johnson had an outstanding day, driving in five runs while going two-for-four at the plate.
"Grand slams are pretty rare," Johnson said. "There is no feeling like rounding third and seeing three guys standing at home ready to greet you."
PLU received excellent offensive contributions from their leadoff man in Connor Cantu. Cantu went three-for-five with two RBI. As a team, the Lutes banged out 13 hits, while striking out just five times.
Despite getting roughed up early, Justin Armbruester picked up the win on the mound in game one for the Lutes. Armbruester went five innings, striking out five batters while walking just two. Alex Gregory did an excellent job in relief, going three innings with two strikeouts. Jacob Mortenson came on for the save, shutting the door on Cal Lutheran.
"Armbruester was not sharp at all today, but he kept his composure and really competed hard for us," Soete said. "He did a good job grinding through the middle innings. Gregory threw well, but got a little tired and Mortensen got himself into trouble in the 9th and Doten and Stump did a great job turning a tough double play to end the game."
Game two was a close one, as the Lutes trailed the Kingsmen 3-0 midway through the sixth. The California Lutheran bats came alive, scoring 16 runs in their final three offensive chances.
PLU plays Pomona-Pitzer on their way back to the Pacific Northwest. One game takes place on Sunday at 11a.m.
"I need to see these guys bounce back and compete like they have all year," Soete said. "They will be ready to go."