By Gabi Marrese
The Loggers baseball season started off in sunny California facing Pomona Pitzer in a three game series.
“The first few games are a great way to see where we are at. A lot of new guys and experienced older players had the opportunity to test all the hard work we put in the offseason,” said senior Ryan Darrow (Bellevue, Washington).
This years roster consists of 15 freshman with plenty of potential. Freshman Tyler Brazelton (Black Diamond, Washington) faced his first collegiate pitcher in the second game of the series. His first ten plate appearances resulted in two RBIs (runs batted in).
“The first-year players are exceptionally talented on the field both in terms of ability and baseball IQ. Our biggest task as upperclassmen will be making sure that they are able to effectively budget their time between baseball and full course schedules, as that is traditionally the most challenging aspect of entering your first season as a varsity athlete,” said senior Layne Croney (Corvallis, Oregon).
The Loggers first win of the season was in the third game of the series against Pomona Pitzer. Puget Sound jumped out to a six – one lead in the third inning. Both teams scored a few more runs each, until the seventh inning when sophomore closer Michael Warnick (Bellevue, Washington) entered the game. Warnick recorded shutout in his first three innings of his first save in the first win of the season.
“We had far too many errors down in California, which undermined some outstanding pitching performances. I think we can attribute most of our mistakes to nerves, though, and believe that we will put together a steadier weekend in the field,” said Croney.
The pitching rotation totaled 37 strikeouts and didn’t allow a single home run in their first six games. In game four, freshman southpaw Joe Brennan (Anacortes, Washington) allowed one run in the first five innings of his first collegiate game against Whittier.
“Baseball can be a tough game mentally because there often is a lot of failure involved. We try to teach the guys what went wrong, make sure they understand how they can improve in that situation and then also when we can, replicate the situation in practice. We will do that as much as possible so they feel confident moving forward,” said head coach Jeff Halstead.
The Loggers continued on the road to face three conference teams in a non-conference matchup in Wilsonville, Oregon. Junior Joshua Zausubin (Bellingham, Washington) started off the weekend with a seven -two win over Whitworth. He completed eight innings only allowing two runs. The Loggers are off to a good start after going one – five against Whitworth last season.
“It is always an advantage getting an early lead against our opponents. It helps put the game in our momentum and gives guys confidence to finish the game strong,” said Darrow.
The Loggers faced Willamette in the next game. Brennan allowed three runs in his two innings. The Loggers attempted a comeback in the eighth but fell short in a three – one loss.
The final game of the weekend the Loggers faced Lewis and Clark. The close high scoring game resulted in a ten – nine comeback win for Puget Sound. The comeback started in the bottom of the seventh the Loggers down nine – three. The inning started off with an unearned run due to an error and wild pitch. Heads up baserunning by Loggers allowed them to be within one run of Lewis and Clark to start the top of the eighth. The Loggers then forced the Pioneers to strand two runners on base and enter the bottom of the inning without a run. With three hit the Loggers earned two runs to pull ahead ten – nine entering the last inning.
“After two weekends it has been exciting to see the guys as they develop their roles on the team. We have really improved each weekend of play and I’m really excited to get back to work this week and prepare for our home opener against PLU,” said Halstead.
The Loggers first home series will be on Feb. 18th and 19th 2017 against Pacific Lutheran.