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April 2, 2011

Lutes, Missionaries Split Conference Baseball Twinbill

PARKLAND - Strong pitching performances from Whitman's Justin Weeks in the opener and from Pacific Lutheran's Dan Johansen in the nightcap helped their respective teams to victory as the Missionaries and Lutes split a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader on a windy Saturday afternoon at the PLU field.

Whitman (4-21 overall, 3-11 NWC) won the opener, 4-2, and PLU (10-11, 6-5) took the second game, 7-0.

Weeks went the nine-inning distance in the opener, improving his record to 2-4 by shutting out the Lutes over the final eight innings. PLU's Max Beatty was better than Weeks for most of the game, carrying a two-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning before the Missionaries rallied with four runs on five hits to hand Beatty his third loss against two wins.

Johansen won his third consecutive conference start, allowing on three hits while striking out 11 and walking none to improve his record to 3-1.

Game One: Whitman 4, PLU 2

The Lutes jumped on Weeks for two runs on three hits in the first inning, but managed just five more hits the rest of the way. Jacob Hoffman led off with a long double to left-centerfield, and after Jaron Iwakami's sacrifice bunt, Hoffman scored on Corey Moore's infield single. Gates moved up a base on a ground out and then scored on Ryan Aratani's double to left-centerfield.

Still leading 2-0, the Lutes had a great chance to play add on in the fifth, but they left the bases loaded. In the seventh, Ryan Boyles led off with a double and was replaced on the bases by Dominick Courcy, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. He was stranded there, however, when the next two batters struck out and grounded out.

That led the Whitman's game-changing rally with two out in the eighth. Beatty had been in control to that point, allowing only two hits. Chris Andrews, the number nine hitter in the order, started things with a base hit to right field, and Jimmy Madden followed with another single, advancing Andrews to third base. Jay Richard was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Cameron Young followed with a line drive single off Beatty's leg, driving in a run and leaving the bases loaded. Casey Minnick drew a walk to force in a run and tie the game at 2-2, and Erik Korsmo followed with a base hit through the middle, plating the final two runs.

The Lutes had no answer in the final two innings, and Whitman had its first road win over PLU since it took two of three during the 2004 season.

Korsmo had two of Whitman's seven hits against Beatty, who walked two and struck out six. Hoffman had two of PLU's eight hits against Weeks, who walked just one while fanning two.

Game Two: PLU 7, Whitman 0

Johansen, who did not pitch for PLU last year while earning second team all-conference honors in the outfield, dominated the Whitman lineup. He struck out the side in the third and whiffed a pair in both the fourth and ninth innings.

With runners on first and second following a hit batter and Whitman's first single by Richards, Johansen got out of third-inning trouble with a strikeout. It was the first of 13 consecutive Whitman batters retired by the senior righthander. The Missionaries finally broke through in the eighth inning on a single by Kyle Moyes and a two-out double by Madden, but Johansen struck out Richard to end that threat.

The Lutes went right to work on Whitman lefty Jake Nelson, scoring six runs in the first three innings. In the first, Johansen hit a one-out double and Brock Gates followed with a two-run home run down the left field line that was fair by less than two feet. The homer was the fourth of the season for Gates.

PLU added three runs in the second, all of them unearned. A two-out fielding error on Bo Pearson's grounder opened the door, and Hoffman made Whitman pay with a run-scoring single. After Johansen was hit by a pitch, he and Hoffman worked a double steal to set up Corey Moore's two-run single to center.

An inning later, Aratani led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Chargualaf, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Boyles.

The final run came in the seventh against relief pitcher Tristan Gavin. With two outs, Gates hit a long double to left field, and he came around to score on a pair of wild pitches.

The Lutes collected 10 hits in the game, including three by Aratani and two each by Gates and Pearson.

PLU and Whitman conclude their three-game series on Sunday with a nine-inning game scheduled to start at noon.

- PLU -