Pioneers take both from Linfield on Saturday

Pioneers take both from Linfield on Saturday

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Max Gordon hit his second career home run with a three-run shot in the first inning and starting pitcher Nick Kennison won his first game of the season, leading Lewis & Clark to a 4-2 victory over Linfield in the first game of a doubleheader, Saturday afternoon at the Huston Sports Complex.

In his fifth start of the season, Kennison tossed seven strong innings, striking out four and allowed 10 hits. Both of Linfield's two runs were earned in the second and third innings, respectively.

It was Lewis & Clark's third victory in its last five games, improving to 4-16 overall and 2-7 in the Northwest Conference. Linfield drops to 12-9 overall, 7-6 in the NWC.

Sean Shepherd was 3-for-3 with two runs scored; Ryan Ericksen went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI; and Gordon went 2-for-3 and 3 RBI.

Overall, the Pioneers had eight hits and left seven runners on base.

Linfield starting pitcher Carson Cunningham took the loss (5-2). He pitched 5.1 innings, striking out five and allowing four earned runs.

The Pioneers didn't waste any time generating offensive in the bottom of the first highlighted by a three-run homer from Gordon. With two outs in the inning, Shepherd reached base after being hit-by-the-pitch, then Ericksen's bloop single to right put runners on first and second. Gordon followed with his second career home run to left, the first round-tripper given up by Cunningham this season.

Linfield was able to score its first run in the second, however the Pioneers dodged a pair of bullets keeping it to one run.

Left fielder Justin Katona threw out Linfield's Cameron Fox at the plate after Jake Dennis singled down the left field line. Not long after, Daniel Zavala singled to score Alex Hendra-Brown, however, Zavala was then caught stealing when Lewis & Clark catcher Sam Helms threw Zavala out at second.

Linfield inched closer with another run in the third.

In the top of the fifth, Lewis & Clark had another defensive gem. Centerfielder Matt Donovan snagged an over-the-shoulder catch robbing Brady Rediger at the warning track.

Lewis and Clark left the bases loaded in the six, however was able to muster a run.

Shepherd started the inning with a fortuitous infield single in the gap between the pitcher and first baseman. He later stole (his fourth stolen base of the season) and later scored on an Ericksen single to right center, putting the home team up 4-2 after six innings.

Linfield, who left a pair of runners on base in the seventh, stranded eight runners for the game on 12 hits.

Lewis & Clark relief pitcher Zach Merzlak came in to close the last two innings to collect his first save of the season.

Game two of the doubleheader is scheduled at 2 p.m.

Game 2

Robert Reaser persevered through seven innings on the mound and a 1-hour, 4-minute rain delay to earn his first win of the season as the Pioneers swept day one against Linfield.

With the Pios leading 3-0 in the fourth inning, heavy rain and some hail fell onto the field at Huston Sports Complex. Reaser returned to the game and allowed only two hits through the seventh inning. Austin Conniff relieved Reaser and pitched the final two for his first career save.

In a six-strikeout performance, Reaser (1-4) had hadn't allowed a hit since the opening batter of the game for the Wildcats before heavy rain and some hail delayed the game by over an hour.

"We stayed loose in the dugout and had some fun," said senior Max Gordon about the rain delay. "Our pitchers did a really good job. Robert had been struggling a little bit, and he came out and had a really strong outing for us."

Reaser completed his first outing without yielding a run this season and allowed six walks. Conniff gave up two doubles in the ninth inning, the latter of which Jake Gellos scored Linfield's only run of the game, for two of his three hits allowed. Conniff has given up two runs or fewer in four of his last five appearances.  

The Pios scored all three of their runs with two outs in the first inning. With Chandler Vieira on base, Ryan Ericksen and Gordon hit back-to-back singles with Gordon's scoring Vieira before Justin Katona hit two more in with his first career triple.

Linfield (12-10, 7-7 NWC) left two runners in three of the final four innings as Cal Neely (1-4) took a complete-game loss by allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

Ericksen finished 2 for 4 to begin the series 4 for 8 at the plate. He's hitting a career-high .370 this season. Lewis & Clark has 41 extra-base hits through 21 games this season after totaling 60 in 38 games all of last season. Gordon has five of his eight hits in his last four games.

"Trying to hit the ball hard, find my pitch and drive it," said Gordon. "I've been pretty good at doing that.

After a 1-14 start, the Pios (5-16, 3-7 NWC) have won three of their last four and four of their last six.

"Different atmosphere. There is a great future in this program now," said Gordon about first-year head coach Matt Kosderka's coaching staff.

"Need another good pitching performance and some more clutch hits from our team [tomorrow]."

The Pios complete their series with Linfield at noon on Sunday.

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