Pioneers in fifth after first two conference series

Pioneers in fifth after first two conference series

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lewis & Clark didn't allow more than two runs in any one inning in Sunday's series-ending game against Linfield at Huston Field, but the Pioneers couldn't get runs themselves in a 9-0 defeat to the 20th-ranked Wildcats.

After beating Linfield in Saturday's opener before allowing seven runs in the first inning in a game two loss, Lewis & Clark gave up two runs in the first, one apiece in the third and fourth before five over the last three innings to lose the finale.

Over Lewis & Clark's first 16 games, the Pioneers are 7-9, and 3-3 in the Northwest Conference, sitting in fifth place.

"Beating Linfield is a really strong accomplishment, as they're a great team," said Lewis & Clark head coach Tom Flynn. "We found a way to win the first one, but didn't play fundamentally sound in the other two, and you have to in order to compete with great teams."

The Pios committed three errors on Sunday and left six runners on base, including three in scoring position, as Lewis & Clark was shutout for just the second time this season.

Still, the Pios had eight hits to Linfield's 12. Lewis & Clark has had eight or more hits in nine of its last 10 games. In Saturday's second game, Bradley Lezak hit his first home run this year, giving the Pios six on the season, one more than Lewis & Clark had all of last year.

"The power is coming with experience. It's a combination of our approach, and we take a bunch of hacks in practice," said junior centerfielder Ben Beck, "Moving forward, our offense [can be] great."

Tommy Massari (pictured right) had three hits for the Pioneers on Sunday, while Conner Sick, Cooper Larson, Sean Shepherd, Spencer Gutterman and Lezak had one apiece.

Jake Gellos had a double and two RBI to lead Linfield at the plate. He was one of five Wildcats with multiple hits.

Freshman starting pitcher Robert Reaser fell to 1-4 after throwing seven innings in which he allowed seven hits and five runs. He struckout four and walked five. Holden Jones pitched two innings in relief, making the sixth appearance of his freshman year. Jones gave up four runs on five hits with one walk.

Meanwhile, Cason Cunningham combined with four other pitchers to give up only one walk while striking out seven for Linfield.

"It's definitely nerve-wracking, getting the speed of the game," said Beck of being in the first half of one's freshman season. "As an upperclassmen, it's really important to tell the freshmen that they'll be tight, you'll have these bumps, so get through this now because we'll need you.

"We know now we can beat a Linfield or Puget Sound. It just comes up with experience."

Lewis & Clark's 3-3 start puts the Pioneers two wins shy of matching their NWC win total from a year ago. The mark comes against two teams that were picked in the top five of the conference in the preseason coaches' poll. Linfield was selected second behind last year's champion, Pacific Lutheran, followed by Whitworth, George Fox and Puget Sound.

Whitworth plays at Lewis & Clark on Monday for a non-league match-up. The Pios next NWC series starts Saturday at Pacific.

Other Northwest Conference Scores - Sunday

Pacific Lutheran 10, Willamette 1
Whitworth 9, George Fox 2
Pacific 19, Puget Sound 8