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March 24, 2012

Pitching Prowess Carries PLU Past Loggers

Freshman pitchers Collin Nilson and Trevor Lubking dominated Puget Sound hitters on Saturday afternoon as Pacific Lutheran swept a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader from the visiting Loggers, 15-5 and 8-2, at the PLU baseball field.

Pacific Lutheran is now 13-7 overall and 8-3 in the conference standings, while Puget Sound falls to 4-17-1 overall and 1-7 in the NWC.

Nilson and Lubking, both of whom had successful careers at local high schools, were outstanding for the Lutes.

Nilson, who played at Fife High School, had his third consecutive outstanding start and improved his season record to 4-0 with an eight-inning performance in the opener. He allowed just two hits while walking three and striking out four. In a total of 27 1/3 innings this spring he has a 0.00 earned run average, allowing only an unearned run, while giving up just 11 hits. Opponents are hitting just .122 against Nilson.

Lubking, an all-state pitcher at White River High, allowed no runs on four hits while walking one and striking out eight - six in a row in the second and third innings - in the second game.

Nilson worked with plenty of offensive support. PLU scored a run in the second on Corey Moore's RBI single, and it added another in the third on Jacob Hoffman's run-scoring double to left. The Lutes broke the game open with six runs in the fourth inning. Hoffman and Bo Pearson sandwiched two-run doubles around a two-run single by Jaron Iwakami. One inning later, Hoffman had his third straight double and his fourth RBI of the contest.

The Lutes added six more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on just three hits, with Brock Gates hitting a two-out grand slam home run over the right field fence to highlight the outburst. For Gates, the hit kept alive a streak of having at least one hit in each of PLU's games this season. Prior to that he was 0-for-2, though he had been hit by pitches three times.

Puget Sound finally got onto the scoreboard in the final inning, scoring five runs on just three hits. Paul Webster had a two-run single, Tucker Barney a run-scoring double and Andrew Grady a RBI single in the inning.

The Loggers finished with just five hits, with no player collecting more than one.

For the Lutes, Hoffman and Iwakami both had three hits, while Curtis Wildung and Pearson had a pair apiece as the Lutes finished the game with 15 runs, 15 hits and 15 RBI. Dominick Courcy scored four runs and both Hoffman and Gates had four runs batted in.

Lubking registered seven of his eight strikeouts in the first three innings, including fanning the side in both the second and third frames.

The Lutes finally gave him some support in the fourth inning when, with two outs, Moore delivered a two-out single. Moore drove in the next two PLU runs in the sixth inning when he hit a two-run double, and Courcy followed that with a sacrifice fly.

PLU added a run in the seventh on Ryan Frost's sacrifice fly, and it scored its final two in the bottom of the eighth on run-scoring single by Sammy Davis followed by Hoffman's fourth RBI double of the day.

Puget Sound's two runs came in the top of the ninth inning and scored on a Connor Savage sacrifice fly and a Matt Cox RBI single.

The Loggers had eight hits in the game, including three by Webster and two by Coberly. PLU finished with 11 hits inlcuding two each by Davis, Hoffman and Moore, the latter who also drove in four runs. Gates finished 1-for-3 in the game and now has a hit in all 20 PLU games this season.

The teams complete their three-game series with a single nine-inning game beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.

- PLU -