Loggers continue hottest tear in a decade with sweep over Willamette

Loggers continue hottest tear in a decade with sweep over Willamette

TACOMA, Wash.—The Puget Sound baseball squad tallied its third consecutive series sweep Sunday, winning both games of a doubleheader over Willamette to extend its win streak to nine games. Thanks to the wins over the Bearcats on Logger Field in Tacoma, the Loggers are riding their longest win streak since at least 2000.

Game One: Puget Sound 18, Willamette 3

Puget Sound's red-hot bats from Saturday's game continued during game one of Saturday's doubleheader as the Loggers scored a season-high 18 runs on 16 hits and four Willamette errors. All nine Logger starters scored a run during the blowout and all but one of them tallied a base knock. Lucas Stone, Nick Funyak, and Troy Kakugawa all tallied three hits on the day, while Kakugawa and Chris Zerio each brought in three RBIs. Connor Savage led the team with three runs scored.

The Loggers took a quick lead with three runs in the first inning. Willamette countered with one in the second, but the home team put up its first of two five-run innings on the day to take a commanding 8-1 lead after just two frames. Puget Sound's five runs in the second came in five consecutive plays.

In the sixth inning, the Loggers saw their second five-run frame of the contest as they connected for four hits. Zerio had a single up the middle for two of his RBIs on the day, plating Savage and Kakugawa. Both teams scored in the eighth and Willamette added one more in the ninth to put the final score at 18-3, the Loggers' largest win this season and largest since beating Whitman 18-2 in Walla Walla, Wash. May 1, 2009.

Game Two: Puget Sound 9, Willamette 5 (8 innings)

Willamette scored two in the first inning to take a quick lead, but a Logger score in each of the first and second innings evened up the game. Nathan Backes gave the Loggers the lead with a three-run homer in the third inning, his fifth homerun of the year.

The Bearcats scored two in the fifth to come within one, but the Loggers responded immediately with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. Funyak ripped a double down the right field line for two RBIs in that inning, and Christian Carter tallied the other one with a grounder to the shortstop. Puget Sound scored one more in the seventh, and the Bearcats got one more in the eighth, but the game was called after the top half of the eighth due to darkness. The Loggers clinched the 9-5 victory, extending their win streak to nine games. 

Also, the game two victory was Puget Sound head coach Brian Billings' 200th victory as manager of the program. He entered the 2014 season with 184 wins and the 9-5 win over Willamette was the Loggers' 16th of the year. 

During the nine-game win streak, the Loggers are hitting .351 with a slugging percentage of .462. They've scored 87 runs during the stretch, averaging 9.67 a game. Funyak has been particularly strong during the stretch, hitting .500 (13-for-16) with five doubles, 10 RBI, and five runs scored. Zerio has also been on a tear, hitting .421 and knocking in 14 RBI during the stretch.

Both Savage and Addison Melzer have hits during all nine games of the win streak. Savage is actually riding a 13-game hit streak, during which he's hitting .429 with 24 hits, 14 runs scored, and six RBIs. Melzer 's hit streak is at nine games, and the senior is hitting .393 during his streak.

As the doubleheader against Willamette included the Loggers' final home games of the season, the Puget Sound coaching staff celebrated the six seniors on the team who were playing their final collegiate games at Logger Field. Stone, Melzer, Carter, Jeff Walton, Jarrod Beiser, and Tucker Barney are all graduating next month and were honored by their coaches between the two games. They all played today as Stone, Melzer, Carter and Walton all started game one. Beiser came on in relief in game one, and Barney saw a pinch-hit at bat during the early game as well. It was Barney's first at bat all season as he was forced to miss his senior year due to injury. He's been serving as a team manager since February.

The Loggers (16-17) end the Northwest Conference season with a conference record of 14-10 and a share of fourth place. They are tied with Willamette in fourth and are just one game behind George Fox in third. Puget Sound ends the 2014 season May 3-4 with a three-game non-conference series at Pacific in Forest Grove, Ore.