By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman, Sports Information Assistant
HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Opponents' early onslaughts and an ineffective Lewis & Clark offense derailed the Pioneers in both games of their double header, Sunday, at Ron Tonkin Field. Lewis & Clark starting pitchers struggled to work out of each of their first innings, and despite thirteen hits and eleven walks by the Pios over the course of the double dip, the men in orange only managed three runs on the day.
Four runs allowed in the first inning by Lewis & Clark, set the tone for their Sunday morning match up against the Willamette Bearcats, which ended in a 8-3 defeat.
Three batters into the game, the Pioneers faced a threat with two runners in scoring position and only one out. Cole Purcell laid down a safety squeeze right in front of home plate, but unfortunately LC starter Robert Reaser couldn't get a handle on the ball and allowed the run from third to score on his bobble. Two batters later, Willamette cashed in again, as a bases loaded, hit by pitch forced in another run. Later in the inning, Kyle Paguio shot a single to short center, driving in the third and fourth runs of the frame.
The Bearcats immediately worked their way into trouble in the bottom of the first as well, walking the bases loaded. However, the Pioneers had much less success driving in runs than their counterparts, as Connor Eggleston lined into an inning ending, 6-4 double play.
Lewis & Clark again threatened in the third, putting two runners on the base paths with only one out, but a the Bearcats were able to induce a flyout, and strikeout Eggleston, to end the inning.
Reaser was replaced on the mound by Nat Richman to begin the top of the fourth, but unfortunately, the Pios' reliever didn't fare much better than his predecessor. Richman walked leadoff batter, Paguio, who scored two batters later on an RBI single to right by Austin Hagarty. After a stolen base and hit batsman, Mason Fessler knocked a single of his own into right, plating Hagarty, the Bearcats' sixth run of the game. Purcell plated another in the inning with a sac fly to center to drive Willamette's lead to 7-0.
The Pioneers finally answered Willamette's scoring in the bottom of the fourth with a couple runs of their own. Cooper Larson lead off the home half with a single to left field and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Akira Abderrahman worked himself a walk before Nick Lockwood was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Max Haddad. The shortstop knocked a single through the left side, driving in Larson and forcing a pitching change. Evan Giddings replaced Nathan Gilman on the mound. Bradley Lezak then lifted a sac fly to right, scoring the Pioneers' second run, however the Bearcats limited the damage by retiring the next two batters in a row.
A 7-2 score stood until the seventh, when Connor Bailey reached on a throwing error, and later scored on a Hagarty RBI single to right expanding the Bearcat lead to six runs.
Lewis & Clark tallied another run in the 8th as Spencer Gutterman knocked an RBI single to center, driving in Larson, who reached on a double to right-center.
Zach Merzlak, who came on in the seventh, turned in a strong two and a third shutout innings, retiring eight of nine batters faced. Unfortunately, the Pioneers were only able to muster another run in the eighth to narrow the Willamette lead to 8-3, before going down in order in the ninth.
Like the first game of the day, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers found themselves unable to claw their way back from an early deficit in game two, against the Puget Sound Loggers. The Pios were frustrated at the plate, as they left nine men on base, including six in scoring position, en route to their 5-0 loss to the Loggers.
After striking out the first batter he faced, Aaron Landecker struggled to keep runners off base in the first inning. The senior lefty allowed two hits and walked the bases loaded, before the Loggers' Nick Funyak singled to right, driving in Nickolas Alarcio and Chris Zerio. Matt Shelhammer then followed with an RBI double to left center, to grow the the lead to 3-0. James Dejesus drove in two more as he ripped a hard hit ball, that handcuffed Pios shortstop Max Haddad, before rolling into center field. The single inning would prove to be the difference in as the Pioneers found themselves struggling for offence the rest of the game.
Things looked promising for the Pios in the early parts of the second, with Akira Abderrahman crushing a ball over the right fielder's head. As the Pioneer's hit took a bounce off the base of the wall, Abderrahman turned on the jets rounding second, and found himself sliding safely into third with a one-out triple. Unfortunately, Nick Lockwood and Carter Bagley were unable to lift the ball out of the infield, ending the inning uneventfully, and stranding the runner ninety feet from home.
Things remained calm the next couple innings, but Lockwood put on an amazing defensive display in the third, tracking down a pop fly in foul territory, lunging and falling into the seats to record the final out of the inning. Landecker settled in after his rocky first and would go on to face only 3 over the minimum in his next five innings of work.
Lewis & Clark was given another opportunity to do some damage in the seventh, as the first two batters each worked a walk. However, Puget Sound was again able to escape the inning, stranding Pios at first and third.
Both teams' relief staff worked efficiently in the later innings, combining for a single hit allowed after the top of the seventh. Despite the fact the one hit was collected by LC, a ninth inning double by Abderrahman, the Pios were unable to prevent the shutout and fell to the Loggers by a final of 5-0.
Up Next: The Pioneers play their final game of the Northwest Conference Invatational Tournament, tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., taking on Pacific.