NEWBERG, Ore. – With outstanding pitching on both sides, the visiting Pacific Lutheran University Lutes took the opening game of a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader 3-2 in eight innings before the George Fox University Bruins bounced back to win the nightcap 3-1 on a chilly Sunday afternoon here at the Morse Softball Field.
With the split, the Bruins salvaged the final game of the four-game series and boosted their record to 12-11 overall and 7-6 in the conference. Seventh-ranked Pacific Lutheran slipped to 16-6 overall, 14-2 in league play, and back into a tie for first with defending NCAA Division III national champion Linfield College.
Game 1 - Pacific Lutheran 3, at George Fox 2
Stacey Hagensen (9-3) of PLU and George Fox’s Erin Hento (4-4) each went the eight-inning distance in the first game, Hagensen allowing five hits and one unearned run with five strikeouts and no walks, and Hento spacing six hits with only two earned runs, two strikeouts and three walks.
The Bruins got on the board first when Bethany Chriss was hit by a pitch, went to third on an error by Hagensen on McKenzie Beeson’s grounder, and scored on Kerrianne Davidson’s force out at second in the 2nd. The Lutes tied it in the 3rd when Katie Lowery and Amanda Goings singled, and after a force out at third, Goings scored on an error at short on Hagensen’s ground ball.
George Fox regained the lead in the 5th as Jenny Milton doubled in Mckynna Towery, who had singled, but again the Lutes rallied, this time in the 7th. Lindsey Matsunaga singled, advanced on a ground out, and scored on Lowery’s clutch two-out double.
The Lutes got the winning run in the 8th on singles by Montessa Califano and Hagensen and two-out walks to Matsunaga and Haley Harshaw. Milton led off the last of the 8th with a single for the Bruins and moved into scoring position on a ground out, but Hagensen fanned the last two batters to preserve the win.
Lowery for the Lutes and Milton for the Bruins were the only players to get two hits in the game.
Game 2 - at George Fox 3, Pacific Lutheran 1
Genetta Bennett doubled in Kris Trindle, who had bunted for a hit, and Milton, who had walked, in the 1st inning to provide just enough runs to support the combined pitching efforts of Allyssa DenDekker (3-3) and Hento, who picked up her fourth save of the year. The Bruins got an insurance run in the last of the 5th on consecutive two-out singles by Chriss, Trindle and Milton.
The Lutes’ lone run came in the 5th off DenDekker in a bizarre fashion. Spencer Sherwin drilled a two-out drive to right-center, and when right fielder Felicia Chavez fielded the ball and threw it back toward the infield, the ball stuck in the outfield turf and quit rolling. Before any of the Bruins could retrieve it, Sherwin had circled the bases for a rare inside-the-park home run.
DenDekker worked 4.2 innings with six hits allowed, no walks and two strikeouts. Hento finished up with 2.1 innings, spacing four hits. Kaaren Hatlen (5-1) was pinned with her first loss of the season as she went the distance, scattering seven hits with one strikeout and one walk.
Trindle and Milton collected two hits each for the Bruins, while Califano, Hagensen and Sherwin had two safeties apiece for the Lutes.
NEXT: George Fox will play a make-up conference doubleheader at Lewis & Clark College on Friday, Mar. 23, starting at 1:00 p.m. Three games of the four-game series on Mar. 10-11 were rained out, and no makeup date has been announced for the fourth and final game ... Pacific Lutheran steps outside the conference on Saturday, Mar. 24, with a doubleheader at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, starting at 12:00 noon Central time (10:00 a.m. Pacific).