By Sam Horn, Guest Writer
The Pacific Lutheran University baseball team narrowly won its first game of the season 5-4 against La Verne in the Tucson Invitational Games, thanks to senior closer AJ Konopaski.
Konopaski, a preseason first-team All-American, recorded his first save of the season by striking out two batters and allowing a pair of hits in the final two innings of Friday’s game.
By doing so, Konopaski earned his 21st career save, tying the PLU career saves record. Aaron Roetcisoender, an ’05 graduate, was the fellow Lute with 21 career saves.
Starting pitcher Chris Bishop, a senior, pitched four shutout innings before allowing four earned runs in the fifth. Fellow senior Jake Otness stepped in for Bishop and allowed two hits before being replaced by junior Cory Nelson. Nelson recorded the win for the Lutes.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Lutes, senior Collin Nilson drove in a pair of runs while going 2-for-4 with a single and a double as five different Lutes tallied multiple hits.
Junior Brett Johnson also had two hits, including a triple, and drove in a run. The Lutes’ batters pummeled La Verne starting pitcher Javi Iniguez as they scored four runs in just the first inning.
The Lutes’ following opponent in the Tucson Invitational Games was Texas-Dallas.
GAMES 2 & 3
There was no shortage of offense in the Pacific Lutheran University baseball team’s two-game sweep of Texas-Dallas in the Tucson Invitational Games on Saturday. The Lutes won their first game 11-8, which was followed by a shortened seven-inning 9-3 victory in the evening.
In the first inning, Texas-Dallas had jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Lutes mustered a run of their own. Junior Kyler Blades drove in two runs on a two-out single in the second inning. With the score reading 5-3 in the fifth inning, Blades brought two more runs home with another single to knot up the score at 5-5.
The Lutes took an 8-7 lead into the top of the ninth before sophomore Jacob Clements cleared the bases with a double, putting PLU up 11-7. Otness closed out the day on the mound with 3.2 innings of to earn the save.
In the Lutes’ second game of the doubleheader against Texas-Dallas, darkness prevented the teams from finishing the game in nine innings. It was shortened to seven.
Sophomore Kort Skoda pitched five innings and struck out seven to earn the win. Skoda only gave up two runs and three hits.
Junior Drew Oord provided two runs for the Lutes’ offense, hitting a pair of triples. Senior Collin Nilson doubled twice and also drove in two runs in the win.
PLU finished its four-game stint in the Tucson Invitational Game on Sunday against La Verne.
Pacific Lutheran University’s unblemished season is no more after losing 9-5 to La Verne in the final game of the Tucson Invitational Games.
Sophomore Landon Packard’s bases-loaded double put PLU up 4-1 early, but the lead wouldn’t stand for long. La Verne added three runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth and sixth innings to solidify the victory.
Junior Garrett Brown pitched four innings as the Lutes starter before being replaced by junior Cory Nelson in the fifth frame.PLU committed six defensive errors, preventing them from mounting a comeback.
The Lutes will travel to Portland on Valentine’s Day to participate in the Concordia Tournament. Their first game of the two-day tournament will be against Oregon Tech at 2 p.m. ◼︎