SALEM – Pacific Lutheran won a pitchers' duel in the opener, but Chris Bishop stole the spotlight in the second game when he pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in program history to lead the Lutes to a Northwest Conference doubleheader sweep of Willamette Saturday afternoon at John Lewis Field.
Bishop struck out five and allowed only two baserunners in the game, walking one in the second inning and hitting a batter in the third. Facing 29 batters, he posted an even split of 11 flyouts and 11 groundouts to go with the five strikeouts. He finished the afternoon with 108 pitches and induced back-to-back strikeouts to seal the deal and spark a celebration on the mound with his teammates.
Bishop's no-hitter is the second in program history and the first to cover a full nine-inning contest. Joel Barnett tossed a seven-inning no-no against Corban (then Western Baptist) during the 1993 season. For the 5-11 junior out of Rochester, Wash., Saturday's gem not only earned a spot in the record books but also helped the Lutes open NWC play in strong fashion on the road.
The Lutes scored a season-high 10 runs to support Bishop, with nine proving unnecessary. Collin Nilson cranked his second home run of the day as part of a 3-for-4 effort that included four runs batted in during the big PLU win. Alec Beal added two RBI on a fourth-inning single, while Clay Trushinsky, Tyler Thompson and Dominick Courcy each drove in a run for the Lutes. Courcy and Thompson scored two runs apiece in the win.
PLU took the lead in the top of the first when Courcy reached on an error, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on Thompson's groundout to third. The Lutes added two more in both the third and fourth innings before tacking on runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth frames.
Saturday's early game was a thriller as well, but for a different reason. Trevor Lubking and Matt Jepsen paired up for a stellar pitchers' duel, with Lubking tossing six innings of one-run ball to earn his second win of the season. Lubking overcame six hits and a season-high six walks to go with his six strikeouts in earning the win, with Jake Otness tossing the seventh and AJ Konopaski coming in for his sixth save after throwing 43 pitches in two innings of work.
Nilson and Thompson were the big hitters for the Lutes in the opener, with each posting a 1-for-3 line with one RBI and a walk. Courcy reached base three times on a walk and three hits and scored the first run of the game in the top of the sixth inning when he came in to score on Thompson's single to left to make it 1-0 PLU.
After Willamette tied it up in the bottom of the inning, Nilson powered his first homer of the season to left in the top of the seventh for what proved to be the decisive run.
The Lutes improved to 7-4 overall and 2-0 in conference play with the wins, while Willamette fell to 6-6 overall and 0-2 in the NWC. The teams return to action Sunday for the conclusion of the three-game series, with first pitch set for 12 p.m.