ATHERTON, Calif. – The Lewis & Clark baseball team looked posed to split its four game series with Menlo College on Sunday afternoon, but the Oaks managed to come from three runs down to put the finishing touches on the series.
The Oaks took the final three games of the four-game set after dropping the opener by one run in 12 innings. The Pioneers open the season 1-3 overall, while Menlo is now 5-3 on the season.
Freshman Will King got the start for the Pioneers and was able to keep the Oaks off balance through much of the contest. The crafty lefthander found his rhythm early, retiring the eight of the first 12 batters he faced.
The Pio offense helped King, platting three runs in the first two innings of action. Zach Perez was the first Pio to come across the plate, scoring on a Tucker Laurence double to left center in the first inning of action. Lewis & Clark showed off their base running skills in the top of the second inning, with four players successfully stealing a base. Gianluca Giarrizzo got things started with a hard hit single to third, before stealing second. Giuseppe Baffaro moved Giarrizzo to third, before going on to steal second himself.
A single to left by Perez brought both Giarrizzo and Baffaro around to score, while moving Michael Ball to second base. Both Ball and Perez would advance bases on a double steal with the next Pio batter. Despite having two runners in scoring position, the Oaks would manage to get themselves out of the inning without any more damage.
King continued to keep the Oaks on edge in the third inning, retiring the first two batters. Things fell apart with the next batter as a costly error in the field allowed the Oaks to put a runner on base, sparking the Menlo offense. A series of base hits would allow the Oaks to plate their first run of the game, cutting the Pio lead to 3-1.
Baffaro earned the run back for the Pios in the top of the next inning, sending a rocket over the left field fence on the first pitch he saw.
Menlo responded with a home run of their own in the fifth inning, plating two Oaks to pull within one run of the Pioneers. The Pioneers almost added another run in the sixth inning on a well hit ball to center by Nate Grisham with the bases loaded and two outs. A diving catch by the Oaks center fielder ended the inning and stopped the Pios from platting at least two runs.
The Oaks took the momentum from the top half of the inning into the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs on two hits to take control of the scoreboard.
Two Pioneer errors in the seventh inning only added to the Oak
lead, allowing one runner to score on a wild throw to first.
The ninth inning provided some drama, as the Oak pitcher allowed a single to Perez and a walk to Laurence, putting the tying run on base with no outs. A single by sophomore Parker Dane scored Perez to pull the Pios within one, but that would be as close as the team would get, falling 6-5.
Perez ended the day 2-for-3 from the plate, scoring twice and picking up two RBI. Baffaro was just as productive from the plate, hitting 3-for-4, scoring three times.
The Pioneers return to the diamond on Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. as they open Northwest Conference action with a double-header against Pacific.