Pilots slip up against Gonzaga in wet series

By The Beacon | April 10, 2013 9:00pm

After a successful sweep of Santa Clara last week, the Pilots were swept by rival Gonzaga in a three-game series filled with rain, delays and errors.

Sophomore shortstop Michael Lucarelli sprints in a desperate attempt to earn a safe hit against Gonzaga on April 5. Despite being tied or only down a run in all three games at one point, rain delays damaged the Pilots’ momentum and gave Gonzaga more life. (Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer dunn16@up.edu

Stopping play for the game due to rain can almost be as tough as playing in it. The Pilots had to endure this slippery situation and momentum loss for each game of their three-game home series against Gonzaga last weekend.

The series began on April 5 with a game that went only three innings before being suspended until April 6 due to rain. A game and a half later, the Pilots ended Saturday with two losses, the first 5-4 and the second 4-1. The first game was a back and forth battle, with the Pilots tying it up 3-3 in the third-inning before the game was suspended. After restarting on April 6, the Pilots lost momentum and Gonzaga came out on top with two runs in the seventh inning.

The final game of the series was postponed until April 8 after more rain was expected, but never did. It was another close game and ended in a 2-1 loss. Errors in the first and second innings allowed runs for the Bulldogs. The Pilots could only get one run in the third off a bases-loaded ground ball from senior third baseman Jeff Melby.

Senior pitcher Matt McCallister went eight innings and only allowed four hits and two runs. However, he could not get the run support on offense that he needed from his team. The losses brought the Pilots to 12-20 overall and 4-5 in the WCC.

"Our pitching has been solid and keeping us in games," senior catcher Ben Grubb said. "If we can execute offensively, that's what we need."

Missed scoring opportunities and errors were problems for the Pilots all weekend. Portland left 23 players on base over the three games and committed 10 errors. Winning the rest of the series is going to be a key for the Pilots being successful in the WCC.

"We're probably going to need to win every series," Grubb said. "We're right in the thick of things in the conference, so if we win every series we'll be in a really good spot."

The rain was the other tormentor of the Pilots this weekend. With delays and one game being cut in half, it was hard for the team to keep the momentum going.

"It's so unpredictable because you don't know how long it'll be and you have to go back out there and get re-stretched," sophomore shortstop Michael Lucarelli said.

Due to the rain, the Pilots have a quick turn around before heading to play Brigham Young University next weekend. The BYU Cougars are led offensively by junior second baseman Adam Law, who has a .355 batting average. Their bullpen is led by junior Derek Speigner, who has a 1.27 ERA. The Cougars are 5-4 in the WCC and 17-14 overall.

Jeff Melby leads the Pilots with a .327 batting average and 14 RBIs. He is looking to be a source of inspiration to a team hoping for their bats to come up big in the last half of the season. Sophomores Kurt Yinger and Travis Radke lead the pitchers, who have come out strong this season. Yinger has a 2.70 ERA and Radke leads the WCC with 68 strikeouts.

Strong offense and solid pitching are both components needed to beat a talented BYU team and fight to get of the top of the WCC.

The Pilots play BYU in Utah this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They return home to host even tougher opponents who alreay beat the Pilots once this season in cross-state rivals Oregon on April 16 at 3 p.m. and Oregon State on April 17 at 3 p.m. at Joe Etzel Field.

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)