By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman
Sports Information Student Assistant
TACOMA, Wash. - In a close match on Sunday, Lewis & Clark baseball was edged by a fifth inning Pacific Lutheran home run in the Pioneers' final game of the year.
For the second time in back-to-back games, the Pioneers got the scoring started in the first inning. Bradley Lezak worked a leadoff walk before Eric Hyun hit a single through the left side. EJ Hand laid down a sac bunt to move the runners over, and Sean Shepherd followed up with a RBI single to score Lezak from third.
Pioneer starter, Alex Heimbrodt, worked himself two scoreless innings to begin the game, while stranding 4 runners in the opening frames. Righty Garrett Brown, bounced back to set down the Pioneers in order in the second, however Lewis & Clark almost perfectly replicated their opening frame in the third, to score their second run of the game.
Once again, Lezak and Hyun reached base safely to lead off the inning, this time with back-to back-base hits. Hand laid down another sac bunt to set things up for Shepherd. This time, however, Sean Shepherd plated Lezak with a ground out to short to put the Pioneers up 2-0.
The third inning proved to be a big one for Pacific Lutheran as the division leaders capitalized on three hits and a pair of errors. Landon Packard hit a one-out single through the left side and Collin Nilson reached base safely on a fielder's choice-error combination that retired no one. With two men on, Tyler Thompson singled up the middle to drive in the Lutes first run of the game. The next batter, Ben Welch, knocked an RBI single of his own through the right side, plating Nilson and knotting the score at two. Brett Johnson grounded a ball to third, but instead of retiring the batter, a throwing error was made by the third baseman on the attempted put-out to second. Welch advanced all the way to third and Thompson scored on the play to take the lead. Another batter equaled another run, as Drew Oord's RBI groundout to second allowed Welch to advance his final 90 feet.
After an eventless fourth, Lewis & Clark continued the action with some more small ball in the top of the fifth. Lezak and Hyun each reached base safely for the third time and EJ Hand sacrificed the pair over with yet another sac bunt. Garrett Brown struck out Shepherd swinging, but the third strike ended up being a wild pitch that allowed the right fielder to reach base safely. With the bases loaded and one out, Michael Kinkenon stepped to the dish. Kinkenon's at bat was less than eventful, as he grounded out to second, but the ground out drove in the third Pioneer run of the game and his his team leading 20th of the season. The Pioneers also took advantage of an infield error as Tommy Massari reached first on a fielding faux pas by Pacific Lutheran's third baseman. Shepherd advanced to third and Hyun scored on the play, to tie the game at four.
Collin Nilson broke the tie with the first Lute at bat of the fifth inning. Nilson caught a mistake and sent a pitch into left center that cleared the wall for a home run. Heimbrodt, however, bounced back to follow the home run with three straight Ks and retire the side.
All batters were retired in order in the sixth, and aside from a hit by pitch in the bottom of the frame, batters were also retired 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Tommy Massari hit a one out double down the left field line in the top of the eighth, but the next two batters were unable to plate the shortstop and were retired to end the inning.
AJ Konopaski recorded the final three outs in the ninth for his tenth save of the season, and secured Pacific Lutheran's spot as sole champions of the Northwest Conference.
The Lewis & Clark College Pioneers completed the season 8-32 with a 5-19 record in league play.