Pios bounce back from early hole to beat Whitworth

Photo by Robert Garcia-Magdaleno
Photo by Robert Garcia-Magdaleno

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Andrew Yarak struck out six and pitched well after giving up an early home run to help the Lewis & Clark Pioneers to a 3-2 win over the Whitworth Pirates to close out the Northwest Conference series at Huston Sports Complex on Sunday.

Matt Donovan, Sean Shepherd, Ryan Ericksen and Jacob Serafini each had a two-hit day with Shepherd and Serafini driving in runs. Donovan made a diving catch for the second out of the ninth inning to preserve the win.

"Badly," said Donovan on how much the team wanted to win. "Today, we came up with new life, and as an outfielder, I can't let anything drop."

After allowing a first-inning home run by Tyler Bailey, Yarak recovered to allow just four hits in the rest of the game without allowing a run over his seven innings. Austin Conniff picked up his third save of the year by keeping the Pirates hitless over the final two innings.

"It was great to see our guys bounce back today," said Pioneers head coach Matt Kosderka. "We didn't compete very well on Friday, and I challenged them to get back after it today, and they did."

Lewis & Clark lost the opening games of the series 5-1 and 8-0.

Tyler Bailey hit a two-run home run in the top of the first to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Whitworth stranded a total of nine baserunners and went scoreless the rest of the way. No one had a multi-hit day against Yarak.

"Andrew was awesome," said Kosderka. "He pitched around the first-inning homer and some plays we didn't make and gave us a chance to win."

Yarak, who improved to 2-6 this season, has now struck out six or more batters in three of his last four games. He leads the Pios in innings thrown (46.0) and strikeouts (43) this year.

"The whole team worked together and deserved that win," said Yarak, who was asked about the difference between this year and last year for him. "Last year, I was more of a thrower. This year, I'm more of a pitcher. I've been working with our pitching coach [Brandon Rupp] and he's developing me into a better pitcher."

Lewis & Clark scored runs on Shepherd's RBI in the third that scored Serafini, who had walked with one out. The following inning, Kevin Jacobs hit a sacrifice fly to score Ericksen before Serafini hit an RBI single.

"It was great to see Serafini come through with a big RBI," said Kosderka "He's had a tough year at the plate, but he always battles and is starting to figure it out.

"Kevin had a really solid weekend. He had been great in the outfield and put together some great at-bats for us."

Jacobs finished the series 4 of 9 with an RBI and is fifth in batting average this season for the Pios.

Even without another run of support following the fourth, Yarak and Conniff closed out the Whitworth lineup that had scored 13 runs in the previous two games.

"Conniff continues to do his thing," said Kosderka. "Lots of quality strikes and a good change of pace."

Conniff is second on the team in earned-run average and the team's top reliever with over 30 innings pitched this season.

The win moves the Pios to 7-24 on the year overall and 4-14 in the NWC. Lewis & Clark travels to Walla Walla, Wash. next weekend for three NWC games and one non-conference meeting with Whitman starting on Apr. 7.

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