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Lutes Split Baseball Doubleheader With George Fox

Curtis Wildung had this huge two-run double in the eighth inning of the opener.
Curtis Wildung had this huge two-run double in the eighth inning of the opener.

Trevor Lubking struck out 13 batters in 7 1/3 innings of the second game Saturday, leading Pacific Lutheran to an 8-2 win and a split of a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader with the George Fox Bruins at the PLU baseball field.

The Bruins won the opener, 8-6, in 11 innings.

Following today's doubleheader the Lutes are 19-11 overall and 11-6 in the conference, one-half game ahead of the Bruins who are 16-17 and 12-8. The teams conclude their three-game series with a nine-inning game starting at noon on Sunday.

Game 1 - George Fox 8, PLU 6 (11 innings)

George Fox seemed well in control with a 6-2 lead entering the bottom of the eighth and ace pitcher Brian Ranta on the mound. But Ranta, who earlier this season threw a no-hitter against Whitman, left the game after throwing 144 pitches in 7 1/3 innings. The Lutes were able to get to Fox relievers Clay Gartner and Alex Keenan, tying the game with four runs.

The Bruins finally won the game in the top of the 11th inning on a leadoff homer by Danny Clifford, his sixth of the season, and a run-scoring single by Zach Miller.

PLU jumped on Ranta right away in the first when Dominick Courcy and Corey Moore hit back-to-back singles. After a sacrifice bunt by Jaron Iwakami and an intentional walk to Brock Gates, Curtis Wildung grounded a ball through the left side for a single and a RBI. That was it for the Lutes, however, as Ranta recorded two strikeouts to end the threat with the bases load.

George Fox got a run back in the second on a double by Derek Blankenship, a single by Timothy Williams and a run-scoring infield single by Jared Chase. Like PLU, George Fox left the bases loaded.

The Bruins scored three runs on three hits in the fourth inning. Williams led off with a walk and Derek Dixon followed with a double down the left field line to score the speedy Williams. Dixon advanced to third on a wild pitch, and after starting pitcher Collin Nilson was lifted in favor of Ryan Frost, Chase followed with a successful suicide squeeze bunt to make it 3-1. Todd Nagamine hit a single and Taylor Hunter was hit by a pitch to reignite the rally, and Josh Rapacz flared a single to right field to drive in Nagamine and make the score 4-1.

The Lutes got a run back in the fifth when Moore hit a double and then scored on a single by Gates, but Fox used the bunting game to get two runs on two hits and a PLU error to take a 6-2 advantage. A throwing error on a sacrifice bunt accounted for an unearned run, and the second came in on Chase's second squeeze bunt.

That set up PLU's big rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. Consecutive one-out fielding errors opened the door, Moore hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the first run, and Courcy scored on a wild pitch for the second. Iwakami then hit a single and Gates walked to bring Wildung to the plate, and he promptly drilled a double into right, scoring both runners to tie the game.

The Lutes had a great chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth after Sammy Davis led off with a double, but after reaching third base on a sacrifice bunt he was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. He also suffered a shoulder injury and had to leave the game.

Both teams wasted scoring chances in the 10th before Clifford and Miller came up with big hits for the Bruins in the 11th. The Lutes put two runners on base in the bottom of the inning, but consecutive fly outs ended the game and gave Taylor Hill, the Bruins' fourth pitcher, his third win against three losses this season.

Both teams had 12 hits and stranded lots of runners on base, the Lutes leaving 17 and the Bruins 14. Dixon had three hits and Williams two more for George Fox, while the top five hitters in the PLU lineup accounted for 11 hits. Wildung was 3-for-3 with three RBI  and three walks, while Courcy, Moore, Iwakami and Gates all had a pair of hits.

Game 2 - PLU 8, George Fox 2

Lubking, a freshman left-hander out of White River High School in nearby Buckley, dominated the George Fox lineup. He threw 130 pitches, using his fastball and occasional breaking pitches and change ups to strike out the side in both the first and fourth innings. He retired nine straight batters between the first and fourth innings and didn't give up a hit until Derek Blankenship hit a two-run homer in the sixth. Lubking allowed only two hits - the second being Derek Dixon's infield roller with two out in the sixth - before coming out of the game with one out in the eigth after fanning Timothy Williams for his 13th-and-final strikeout.

His teammates gave him offensive support with two runs in the third and three more in the fifth.

Moore led off the third with a single and after a fielder's choice Gates crushed his seventh homer of the season over the fence in left centerfield.

Moore also led off the fifth, this time with a double, and after a sacrifice bunt by Iwakami he scored on a single by Gates. After a two-out walk to Frost, Nilson tucked a ground ball double inside the bag at third base, driving in two runs and putting the Lutes on top 5-0.

George Fox got two back when Williams was hit by a pitch and Blankenship followed with his first homer of the season, a drive high over the fence down the left field line.

The Lutes added three insurance runs on two hits and a George Fox error in the eighth inning. Nicholas Hall reached on an error, Jacob Olsufka was hit by a pitch and Courcy drew a walk to load the bases. Moore followed with a run-scoring single to right field, and Iwakami followed that with a two-run base hit to center.

Nathan Eisenhauer, who relieved Lubking in the eighth, earned his second save by giving up no hits while walking one and striking out one in the final 1 2/3 innings.

Moore had three of PLU's nine hits, followed by Gates and Wildung with two hits apiece. Gates hdrove in three runs while Iwakami and Nilson both had a pair of RBI.

 - PLU -