Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – After taking two of three in its opening series of the season, the Pacific Lutheran University baseball team opens Northwest Conference play with a a series against crosstown rival University of Puget Sound.
PLU's offense was fantastic throughout the opening series in California against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. The Lutes (2-1) scored 25 runs, on 38 hits, including five doubles, two triples, and three home runs. A big contributor in game two of the series was Jacob Bockelie. Bockelie had two crucial cuts, resulting in a pair of home runs on the day. The second dinger was a grand slam in eighth inning that gave the Lutes the runs they needed to go on to the 7-3 win. For Bockelie, it only took one cut to define his 2016 season.
One afternoon before the 2016 season, Bockelie was preparing lunch for the day. While making a sandwich, the knife missed it's target. He had cut his extensor tendon in his middle finger of his left hand. His initial reaction was what most peoples would be.
"Ow," Bockelie explained. "I was really worried about the future and how people would react when I told them about what happened. Telling your coach you can't play because you cut your hand making food doesn't sound the best when it's going through your head."
The injury sidelined him for five months, leading Bockelie to miss the 2016 season. Initially, he was put in a cast for eight weeks, immobilizing his hand. Once the cast was removed, he had to relearn how to open and close his hand. Bockelie focused on strengthening his hand and wrist soon after.
Luckily, the injury happened on his glove hand. No adjustments had to be made for Bockelie to be able to catch balls, or hold a bat. At first, there was pain involved in playing catch. He was able to get through the pain, and work on his craft for the 2017 season. It payed off, as Bockelie was recognized as the Northwest Conference Hitter of the Week, in his first week back since injury.
"It's really exciting," Bockalie said. "It makes me really excited for what our team can do and how high our expectations are. We have a bunch of amazing players and we know what we want to achieve this season."
The team heads to Puget Sound for a three game series. On Friday, The Lutes play a single game at 2 p.m. against the Loggers and close the series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. All three games will be played at UPS's Logger Field.
Series History: Historically the Lutes have gotten the better of the Loggers, holding a 80-48-1 all time lead in the series. PLU has won nine of the last 12 contests between the two, including a sweep of last season's conference series.
About the Loggers: Puget Sound (3-4) won two of three last weekend securing wins over Whitworth University (7-2) and Lewis & Clark College (10-9) while dropping a 3-1 decision to Willamette University.
UPS has scored 34 runs, and are averaging 4.8 runs per game. The team is batting .265, with an on-base percentage of .337. James Dejesus has played in all seven games for the Loggers, picking up 10 hits in 31 at bats for a .323 batting average.