Willamette Bats Fall Silent as PLU Sweeps Doubleheader

Hoffman Tosses Four-Hitter in Game One, Late Rally Falls Short in Game Two

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

PARKLAND, WASH. – Pacific Lutheran University's timely hitting overcame a strong performance from Willamette University's pitching staff, as PLU swept a doubleheader played on Saturday, March 2 at the PLU Baseball Field. The Lutes won the first game 1-0, before taking the second game 4-3.

It was the opening weekend of NWC play for both teams. Pacific Lutheran improved to 9-3 on the year, 2-0 in conference play, while Willamette dropped to 4-7, 0-2 in the NWC.

The first game was a true pitchers' duel, as Bearcat ace Peter Hoffman (So., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS) battled PLU's Max Beatty through eight innings.

WU had a terrific chance to open the scoring in the second frame.

After Sky Kelley (Sr., OF, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) reached on a throwing error, Hunter Gallant (So., INF, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) singled to left.

A sacrifice bunt from Tiras Koon (So., C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) gave the Bearcats runners on second and third with one out, but Beatty induced a harmless groundout and strikeout to end the inning.

Instead, the Lutes snapped the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth. Dominick Coursy led off with a single, advancing to second on Hoffman's wild pitch and to third on Alec Beal's bunt single. Though Marcus McClurkin hit into a 4-6-3 double play in the next at-bat, Coursy scored.

Pacific Lutheran threatened once again in the bottom of the sixth, when Coursy reached on a fielders choice, stole second, and advanced to third on another wild pitch. This time, however, Beal hit a grounder back to Hoffman, who threw to first baseman Corbin Bennett for the out.

After stymieing Willamette's bats for eight innings, Beatty gave way to AJ Konopaski, who retired the Bearcats in order in the top of the ninth. Hoffman went the distance for Willamette, taking the hard-luck loss despite giving up just one run on four hits – all infield singles – and no walks.

In game two, the Bearcats again had a chance to strike first, this time in the top of the third. Austin Hagarty (Fr., INF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) reached base on a one-out single, then advanced all the way to third on a pair of two-out wild pitches from PLU starter Trevor Lubking.

In the next at-bat, however, Lubking got WU's Matt Hirsch (Fr., INF, Edmonds, WA/Meadowdale HS) to ground out to second base.

PLU grabbed a two-run advantage in the bottom of the fourth, finally breaking through against Willamette starter Albert Garcia (Fr., LHP, Broomfield, CO/Broomfield HS). After Courcy drew a leadoff walk and Curtis Wildung singled, Carson McCord belted a double to left-center to bring in both runners.

Willamette threatened again in the sixth and seventh innings, both times getting runners to third base with two outs. But both times, Lubking worked out of the jam, forcing Gallant into a pop up at the end of the sixth before Hagarty flied out to end the seventh.

The Lutes pushed their advantage to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Nicholas Hall that brought Garrett Brown home, but this time the Bearcats struck back.

In the top of the eighth, Tyson Giza (Sr., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) and Hirsch led off with back to back singles, chasing Lubking. Tosh Semlacher (Jr., OF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) followed with another single to load the bases with nobody out. 

After Kelley struck out, Gallant launched a sacrifice fly deep to center, bringing home Giza. Peter Davis (Fr., OF/RHP, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) then singled to right, scoring Hirsch, but Konopaski, making his second appearance of the day on the mound, got an inning-ending groundout.

PLU gained a vital insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, when Daniel Altchech homered to left off Davis.

Trailing 4-2, the Bearcats had one last rally in the top of the ninth. Brandon Chinn (Jr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) singled on a bunt to start the inning, advancing to second on a throwing error. Hagarty singled, sending Chinn to third. Giza's sacrifice fly then scored Chinn, closing the gap to 4-3.

Hirsch kept the rally going with a single, but Konopaski struck out Semlacher and Kelley swinging to end the game.

Garcia took the loss for Willamette, giving up two runs on four hits in five innings of work. Lubking was the winning pitcher for the Lutes, giving up two runs on six hits and striking out nine over seven innings. Konopaski earned his third save of the year for PLU.

Giza (2 for 4), Hirsch (2 for 5), Semlacher (2 for 4), and Hagarty (2 for 4) each registered multiple hits for the Bearcats in the second game. 

Willamette will wrap up its series with PLU with a single game on Sunday, March 3 at the PLU Baseball Field. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. (PST).

BOX SCORES

Pacific Lutheran University 1
Willamette University 0
Statistics

Pacific Lutheran University 4
Willamette University 3
Statistics

Despite taking the loss in Game 1, Peter Hoffman turned in another strong performance, dropping his ERA to 1.55.

Despite taking the loss in Game 1, Peter Hoffman turned in another strong performance, dropping his ERA to 1.55.