Sports & Outdoors

Savage’s grand slam keys upset for the Loggers

While the rest of the campus enjoyed a week-long break, the Loggers men’s baseball team stayed hard at work during spring break, playing seven games.

While the team dealt with a setback in the early part of the week, suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of College of Idaho that began on Saturday, March 16 and concluded on Monday, March 18, they went a long way toward redeeming their week with three straight victories over rival Pacific Lutheran.

The Loggers took both halves of the doubleheader on Saturday, March 23, with senior Matt Robinson (Lafayette, Calif.) and junior Jarrod Beiser (Cupertino, Calif.) paving the way with stellar pitching throughout.

One day later, the Loggers put an exclamation point on the series by taking a six-run lead and never looking back, ultimately finishing the three-game sweep with a 6-3 victory.

So it was riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak that the Loggers travelled to Oregon to take on the top-rated team in Division III: Northwest Conference rival Linfield for a three game series that began with a doubleheader on Friday, March 29.

The Loggers began the doubleheader by sending out Robinson, their longest-tenured and most successful starting pitcher, to face their formidable opponents.

But after getting through the first two innings with only a single and a walk against him, Robinson ran into problems in the third. A leadoff single set the tone for the inning, and Robinson ultimately walked the bases loaded.

With two outs, he still had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed, but the opposing batter would not bite on a full count, and the Loggers walked in a run, falling behind 1-0 early.

The fourth inning was the big blow against the Loggers, however. Once again, Linfield loaded the bases with two outs. This time, it only took one pitch for the Wildcats to cash in, as Linfield left fielder Jake Wylie turned a pitch from Robinson into a grand slam that broke the game open, 5-0 Linfield.

The Wildcats ultimately added four more runs, taking the first game in the series by a score of 9-0. Robinson took the loss, as he pitched into the sixth inning, but was chased from the game without recording an out in the inning.

The Loggers’ offense, for their part, could do very little against Linfield’s pitching, managing no runs on six hits. Sophomore Connor Savage (Bothell, Wash.) led the team with two hits.

Looking to bounce back in their second game of the doubleheader, the Loggers took a quick lead in game two, as freshman Nathan Backes (Seattle, Wash.) drilled an RBI single to give the team a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, it was short-lived, as Linfield tied it up in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly. For the second straight game, the Loggers fell victim to a big inning.

This time it came in the second, as Linfield scored four in the inning, knocking out the starter Beiser in the process. The big inning gave Linfield a 5-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

To their credit, though, the Loggers kept fighting, scraping runs in the sixth and eighth innings. The team ultimately fell by a score of 7-3.  Beiser took the loss, and the offense was paced by sophomore Kaulana Smith (Kapolei, Hawaii) and junior Lucas Stone (Ashland, Ore.), who had three hits apiece.

With one final chance to salvage a victory from the series, the Loggers gave Linfield all it could handle on Saturday, March 30.

After falling behind 1-0, Puget Sound bounced back in the fourth inning, as two singles begat a two-out double from freshman JB Eary (Las Vegas, Nev.). Both runs scored, and the Loggers found themselves in possession of a 2-1 lead.

Still, things looked grim for the team as they fell behind 6-2 going into the seventh inning.

But the Loggers refused to quit, scratching across two runs in the top of the seventh, courtesy of a double by Stone and a single by junior Christian Carter (San Diego, Calif.) that brought Stone home and brought the Loggers within two runs.

The big moment came in the eighth, as the Loggers were able to load the bases with two outs for Savage. With a chance to tie the game or take the lead late, Savage delivered, crushing a grand slam to right for the go-ahead score. The Loggers were able to hold on following Savage’s first career home run, ultimately upsetting top-ranked Linfield by a score of 9-7.

While the overall series was not in the Loggers’ favor, the team has to feel good about being able to rally and prevail against the top-rated team in the nation.

The Loggers’ season continues on Saturday, April 6, as they return home to host George Fox.