By Nick Barene, sports writer
The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team had a tall task in facing top-ranked Linfield this weekend in McMinnville, Oregon. While the Lutes tried to overcome the Wildcats’ strong pitching performances, Linfield proved to be on top of their game, sweeping the weekend series.
In the first game, junior Trevor Lubking had a great day on the mound for the Lutes. He pitched a complete game and gave up three earned runs on six hits while striking out nine batters.
Despite Lubking’s gem, the Lutes were unable to come up with the win, as they struggled to score runs against Linfield hurler Chris Haddeland, who gave up no runs on five hits while striking out five.
“I’ll never be satisfied with a loss,” Lubking said of his day on the mound. “I got out of a few jams. It’s just a matter of making quality pitches.”
The offense for the Wildcats was provided in large part by Jake Wylie, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning. In the sixth inning, Kenny Johnson singled to drive in another run for Linfield, sealing the 3-0 victory.
The second game saw more offensive woes for the Lutes, and more offensive success for Linfield as they picked up the 7-1 win. After picking up an unearned run in the second inning, the Wildcats exploded in the fourth and pushed four runs across the plate. Their offensive prowess was complimented by another Wylie homerun.
Senior Nicholas Hall scored a run for the Lutes in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by first-year Ben Welch. With the Wildcats leading 5-1 in the eighth, Wylie hit his second homer, this one a two run shot, to put the game out of reach.
Junior Chris Bishop took the loss for the Lutes, giving up four earned runs on six hits and striking out six. Sophomore Cory Nelson pitched an inning in relief and gave up the home run to Wylie. Nelson also struck out two batters.
In the final game of the weekend series, the Lutes were once again overwhelmed by Linfield, losing 6-1. The Wildcats wasted no time in getting their bats going in the affair, scoring three runs in the first inning.
In the third inning, Linfield was able to score two runs on fielding errors to make it a 5-0 ballgame. They added another run in the sixth when Nick Fisher hit a solo blast over the fence in left field. The Lutes scored a run in the eighth inning on a fielder’s choice hit by sophomore Tyler Thompson.
First-year Derrick Mahlum took the loss for PLU, going 5 and 2/3 innings with four earned runs on eight hits along with four walks and six strikeouts. Linfield pitching allowed just five hits, one earned run, no walks and nine strikeouts.
“Our team goes out every weekend with the intention of winning,” junior Trevor Lubking said. “We learned a lot this weekend and are prepared to move forward.”
With the losses, PLU fell to 16-12 overall and 8-6 in Northwest Conference play. Top-ranked Linfield improved to 24-3 overall and 17-1 in NWC play. The Lutes will be taking to the field this Saturday to take on the George Fox Bruins. Game time is set for noon. ◼︎