PARKLAND, Wash.—The Puget Sound baseball team closed the first weekend of Northwest Conference play with a 3-1 victory over Whitman Sunday, taking the series 2-1 at the Pacific Lutheran Baseball Field in Parkland, Wash.
Neither team scored in the first three innings, but the Loggers had to work out of a second-inning jam to keep it like that. The first two Whitman batters singled to lead off the bottom of the inning, then the designated home team loaded the bases three batters later. With two outs, Logger starter Anthony Brady got Whitman's MacLean Harned to ground into a fielder's choice and end the inning.
Puget Sound struck first in the top of the fourth. Christian Carter ripped a double to score Nathan Backes, who had opened the frame with a single for the Loggers. Troy Kakugawa moved Carter to third base, then Layne Croney flew out to right field, sacrificing himself to bring home Carter and a run for Puget Sound. In the bottom of the frame the Loggers had to get out of another bases-loaded jam as the Missionaries put three of their first four batters on base. Collin Maier replaced Brady on the mound and got out of the jam. Maier struck out the first batter he faced then got Harned to fly out to left field and end the inning.
The Loggers scored their third run in the top of the fifth. Connor Savage walked in the second at bat of the inning and then moved over to third thanks to the next two batters. Backes then blasted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Savage.
In the top of the seventh, the Loggers threatened to add to their lead. Savage reached base after getting hit by a pitch, and Lucas Stone walked two batters later to join Savage on the base paths. They pulled off a double-steal with Savage swiping third and Stone taking second with two outs, but Backes flied out to strand the two runners and end the inning.
Whitman threated runs in each of the eighth and ninth innings as well, but the Missionaries only scored one in the bottom of the ninth. Harned scored the lone Whitman run after tatking home on a groundout by Cameron Young. Puget Sound reliever Kian Kurokawa then got Aaron Cohen to ground out to third and end the game with the scored 3-1 for the Loggers.
"Our pitching, defense, and situational hitting was solid all weekend against a solid Whitman club," said Brian Billings, head coach of Puget Sound. "Hopefully we can build on this series and keep it rolling."
Maier got the win after a stellar performance, going 2.2 innings and allowing just one hit while striking out five batters. He advanced 1-0 on the season, and Kurokawa tallied his third save and second of the weekend. Kurokawa has now gone more than 1.0 innings in each of his three saves this season. It was a team effort on offense as seven players combined for the squad's seven hits, but Backes did go 1-for-2 with an RBI, one run scored, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.
The Loggers (4-6, 2-1 NWC) will now host their first scheduled homestand of the season next weekend, welcoming Whitworth to the friendly confines of Logger Baseball Field. Yesterday's double-header against Whitman counted as home games in the stats, but the Loggers hit first as the designated visiting team in each game against the Missionaries. The first of the three Whitworth games will start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 8 with a second following three hours later at 2:00 p.m.