Loggers win season opener in Texas

Loggers win season opener in Texas

FRISCO, Texas—The Puget Sound baseball squad opened the 2014 season with a 6-5 win over Hendrix Friday after taking advantage of three costly Warrior errors at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.

Hendrix, the designated home team in the neutral site contest, struck first as the Warriors scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. With runners at first and third and one out, Jacob Perschke hit a deep fly ball to Lucas Stone in right field, offering a sacrifice to score the run. Stone muffed the catch, however, and allowed Perschke to take second and sent Thomas Weber to third base while Collin Radack scored. In the next at bat, the Warriors got a ground-out to plate Weber for an unearned run.

The Loggers evened the contest two innings later. Addison Melzer singled through the right side to kick off the third inning and moved to second base when Jeff Walton put down a sacrifice bunt. In the Loggers' third at bat of the inning, JB Eary reached second base after a dropped fly ball by the Hendrix left fielder, and Melzer took third due to the mistake as well. Melzer then scored after Connor Savage grounded out to second base, advancing Eary to third in the process. Puget Sound benefitted from another Hendrix fielding error in the next plate appearance as Troy Kakugawa reached first after an error by the Hendrix third baseman, and Eary scored the Loggers' second unearned run on the mistake as well.

Puget Sound took a brief lead in the top of the sixth after Kakugawa scored on a Nathan Backes double down the left field line. Kakugawa opened the inning with a single to third and advanced on each of the next two at bats. Hendrix answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth, chasing Logger starter Steve Wagar from the game with two hits to open the frame. Kian Kurokawa replaced Wagar, but allowed hits to two of his first three Warriors faced to score the two runs. Kurokawa did, however, get all three outs in the inning and got Hendrix's Collin Radack to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Loggers responded immediately, putting two on with one out in the top of the seventh. Kakugawa advanced both runners with a groundout, and both scored on the next at bat after Hendrix third baseman Brady Newville bobbled another ground ball. Layne Croney singled in the next at bat to load the bases, and Backes tallied his first RBI of the season in the next at bat, singling through the left side of the infield and scoring Stone.   

With the score now 6-4 in favor of the visitors from Washington, Stone then saw his first pitching appearance of the year by replacing Kurowaka on the mound for the bottom of the seventh inning. He got the Warriors to go down 1-2-3 in the seventh, but was tagged for one run in the bottom of the eighth. Stone got another 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, however, and completed the three-inning save.

"It was an exciting back-and-forth game," said Logger head coach Brian Billings. "We played very good defense today, getting a huge double play and a couple other clutch defensive plays. We're excited about tomorrow's games."

In his collegiate debut, Kurokawa got the win after throwing one inning and allowing two hits. Stone tallied the longest save of his career, going 3.0 innings while allowing one hit, one earned run, and two walks while striking out one batter. Wagar, the Loggers' starting pitcher, went 5.0 innings and allowed four runs, three of which were earned. He also struck out six batters in the no-decision. Relief pitcher Connor Nelson of Hendrix took the loss, allowing three runs—all earned—and two walks in one inning of work.

Backes, the Loggers' third baseman, was the star of the Puget Sound offense, collecting two RBIs on three hits, one of them a double. Kakugawa, Croney, Melzer, and Walton collected the Loggers' four other hits to reach the team total of seven. Despite going hitless in four plate appearances, Stone reached base twice on two walks and scored a run for the Loggers. Savage also tallied a run batted in during the Loggers' season opener.

Puget Sound (1-0) will finish off its trip to the Lone Star State Saturday, Feb. 15, with two games at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. They play Texas-Dallas at 1:00 p.m. Pacific and will face Hardin-Simmons immediately after at 4:00 p.m. The Loggers aren't home until Saturday, March 8, when they host Northwest Conference foe Whitworth for two.