Pilots strike out versus OSU, look to build

By The Beacon | April 6, 2011 9:00pm

(Kevin Kadooka -- The Beacon)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer -- marcello13@up.edu

After a rocky 7-0 first two innings the University of Portland baseball fell to No. 19 Oregon State 11-1 on Tuesday.

The Beavers scored in flurries, putting up four runs in the first, three in the second and adding another three runs in the sixth inning. The Pilots struggled on the mound where they used seven different pitchers who combined for 10 walks in the game, which the Beavers took advantage of nearly every time. Portland scored their only run in the seventh by senior Kramer Scott, who scored after hitting a double and advancing to third on a groundout. Junior Sam Westendorf knocked the run home with a single, delivering his second of two hits on the day.

The Pilots started the season with a perfect 5-0 record but have since struggled to get the consistency they need out on the diamond. Rained-out games, injuries and constant traveling have added to the Pilots' woes, but with conference play coming up they look to regain their footing.

"Things haven't gone our way lately. Our bats have been cold, and our pitching has been there some games and hasn't for others," senior third baseman Kevin Armijo said. "Sometimes you struggle as a team to find out who you are and we'd rather do that early in the season than later. Conference play is a good opportunity to turn things around."

While the Pilots have had difficulty getting the bats going as of late, much of this can be credited to facing great pitching, something the team believes could be a blessing in disguise.

"We have faced good pitching as of late, and the WCC is a good pitching conference so getting to see better pitching early can build confidence for batters," Armijo said.

Confidence is something the Pilots are working on, especially when introducing freshmen to both the lineup and the pitching rotation.

Freshman Bo Cornish has stepped up to replace injured junior catcher Beau Fraser. Outfielder Turner Gill has stepped into a starting role and freshman Zach Nice has worked his way onto the mound early in the season.

The young players are still adjusting to the pace of college ball but appreciate their opportunity to contribute to the team.

"Games are faster pace but it's a matter of stepping back, taking a deep breath and slowing it down for yourself," Gill said. "You just have to take it in stride and not be too overwhelmed."

The struggles of the past few games do not seem to slow the enthusiasm of the young players either.

"That is how baseball is, it's a sport where the best players fail seven out of ten times, so you can never get too high or too low," Gill said. "We haven't been playing our best but this is a new series and we can make good things happen."

The Pilots begin conference play hosting Pepperdine tomorrow at 3 p.m. on Joe Etzel Field.