Loggers throw 15 inning shutout in game 1, hold lead in game 2 at PLU

Loggers throw 15 inning shutout in game 1, hold lead in game 2 at PLU

PARKLAND, Wash.—Puget Sound pitchers threw 15.0 innings of shutout ball in game one of a doubleheader against cross-town rival Pacific Lutheran Saturday, leading the Loggers to a 2-0 victory in the only game to finish at PLU Ballpark in Parkland, Wash. During game two, the Logger offense took over before darkness fell, scoring 13 runs in eight innings so far in the middle game of the three-game series.

GAME ONE: Puget Sound 2, Pacific Lutheran 0 (15 innings)

The first game of the doubleheader was pitching duel, pure and simple. The Logger hurlers combined to throw 15.0 innings of shutout ball, allowing 10 hits while fanning eight PLU batters. The 15 inning shutout is Puget Sound's longest team shutout since at least 2000. Both Steve Wagar and Kian Kurokawa saw the longest outings of their careers with Wagar lasting 8.1 innings in the start and Kurokawa going 4.2 in relief. Jarrod Beiser struck out two of the four Lutes batters he faced in the 14th inning, and Troy Kakugawa tallied his first save of the season after shutting the Lutes out in the 15th.

PLU's hurlers also had a strong game, limiting the Logger offense to seven hits while fanning 16 Puget Sound batters. The Lutes' starter and staff ace Trevor Lubking alone had 13 of those strike outs.

Puget Sound threatened to score in the top of the sixth with Lucas Stone reaching first after getting hit by a pitch. In the next at bat, Nathan Backes laid down a bunt single and took second on a throwing error by Lubking. Stone, who advanced to third base on the hit, tried to reach home on the error, but he was tagged out at the plate, preserving the scoreless tie.

On the mound, Wagar threw a gem of a game, making the longest appearance by a Logger since April 14, 2013. He got out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh by getting the Lutes to leave a runner on third base. Pacific Lutheran's Ben Welch took third base with one out, but Wagar got the next two Lutes batters to pop out to second base and ground out to first to end the frame. Wagar again got the Lutes to strand a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth, getting Collin Nilson to foul out and Drew Oord to ground out for the home team's second and third outs.

In the top of the ninth, Jeff Walton walked and Nick Funyak singled, chasing Lubking from the game. Alex Sierra replaced Funyak as a pinch runner, and he and Walton both advanced 90 feet on a groundout from Kakugawa. With two in scoring position and two outs, J.B. Eary grounded out to end the Logger threat.

Wagar got the first batter out in the bottom of the inning and gave way to Kurokawa. The freshman closer finished off the inning by getting two of the three batters he faced out to send the game into extra frames. Kurokawa again got out of a jam in the bottom of the 10th inning, getting the Lutes to strand the winning run on third base.

In the bottom of the 13th, Kurokawa again worked himself out through a Pacific Lutheran threat, escaping after allowing runners on first and second with one out. He gave up a single to Curtis Wildung to right field, but Logger right fielder Stone threw out the lead runner, Nilson, at the plate after Nilson tried to score from second on the hit. Kirokawa walked the next batter, but he then got PLU's Maika'i Derouin to pop out to end the inning.

The Loggers broke through in the top of the 15th ining with a pair of runs, the game's first. Eary led off the frame with a single to left field on the first pitch he saw, and then he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Lund. Eary advanced to third when Connor Savage reached on an error by the Lutes' first baseman, and he touched home after PLU reliever Cory Nelson threw a wild pitch. Savage also scored in the inning, coming in from second on a double from Christian Carter. In the bottom of the frame, Kakugawa took the mound to close out the game for the Loggers. He allowed two Lutes batters on base but struck out Daniel Altchech to end the game.

"Game one was a hard-fought marathon and we were fortunate to come out on the winning side. I'm proud of how resilient we were in the contest," said head coach Brian Billings of the first game on the day.

GAME TWO: Puget Sound 13, Pacific Lutheran 6 (8 innings; postponed in bottom of 8th)

The hosts struck first in game two with Alec Beal scoring on an RBI groundout from Bo Pearson in the first inning. They plated another run in the bottom of the third thanks to Nilson single to center field. The hit knocked in Tyler Thompson for the Lutes' second run.

Puget Sound responded with a four-run fourth inning thanks to four consecutive singles. Stone walked to begin the inning, and Backes also walked in the next at bat to put two on with no outs. Walton sacrificed both runners up 90 feet, and the Loggers' stretch of singles began with an RBI hit by Carter to plate Stone. Funyak brought in Backes with another single, and Eary singled to load the bases. Chris Zerio tallied his first of the night in the next at bat to bring home Carter, and Savage brought in the Loggers' final run of the inning with a fielder's choice. With the outburst, the Loggers took a 4-2 lead.

Pacific Lutheran cut the Logger lead to one in the bottom of the frame, but the visitors got than run back in the fifth. Walton doubled to bring on Stone, who reached base on a single and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.

The Loggers blew the game open in the top of the sixth, tallying seven runs on seven hits, sending nine batters up to the plate. Kakugawa tallied the first big hit of the frame, doubling to left center to bring home Zerio and Eary. Stone followed up with another double to left center, bringing Savage home and sending Kakugawa to third. The freshman from Mililani, Hawaii, touched home next, coming in on a sacrifice from Backes. Walton got in on the double-fest, doubling down the left field line to bring in Stone. Carter tallied the next RBI of the sixth for the Loggers, singling to right field to bring in Walton. With the Loggers batting around, Eary tallied an RBI in the frame to go along with his run, singling through the left side. After the dust settled on the top of the sixth, the Loggers held a 12-3 advantage.  

Both teams scored in the eighth inning as Puget Sound added one on a home run by Walton and the Lutes scored three in the bottom of the third. With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the eighth, the contest was suspended due to darkness and is set to continue Sunday, March 23.

Game two of the series is already the Loggers' best offensive output of the season as the squad has season highs in runs, hits, RBIs, and doubles. They have a chance to add to each mark as they get at least three more outs in Sunday's continuation of game two.  

"We are really swinging the bats well in game two. Hopefully we can get five more outs and secure the series win. Then we'll get ready to sweep the rivalry series," said Billings of the second game.

The Loggers (6-9, 4-3 NWC) and Lutes (12-6, 7-2 NWC) continue the cross-town rivalry Sunday, March 23rd, with the conclusion of game two and all of the final game of the three-game series. Game two is set to resume at 1:00 p.m. March 23, again at PLU Ballpark in Parkland.