Pilots sweep Santa Clara out of Joe Etzel Field

By The Beacon | April 3, 2013 9:00pm

The Pilots celebrate after a hard-fought win against Santa Clara on March 30. The Pilots’ pitching and deep defensive bench has allowed Head Coach Chris Sperry to adjust his lineups and rotations to battle against teams quickly. (Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

By Connor Snashall Staff Writer snashall15@up.edu

Get out the brooms! The Pilots pulled off their first series sweep of the season over WCC opponent Santa Clara last weekend. With crowds of over three hundred, it was a perfect weekend for baseball at Joe Etzel Field and the Pilots did not waste any time in taking full advantage of the recent sunshine, winning both double header games 2-1, 10-3 on March 28 and the series final 7-6.

It took ten innings to decide Thursday's first game but Portland stuck it out for a 2-1 win. The win went to junior reliever Colin Feldtman after sophomore pitcher Travis Radke struck out nine players in six innings, retaining his spot as third in the nation in strikeouts.

The Pilots went on to take the second game despite going down 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth. With help from sophomore center fielder Caleb Whalen to trigger the turnaround, Portland scored five runs to give junior Chad Kjemhus the win. The Pilots took the second game 10-3.

Saturday's game went back and forth, but an RBI from Ben Grubb in the bottom of the eighth put the Pilots ahead 7-6. The score remained through nine as the Pilots trumped the Broncos and completed the sweep.

"It was heaven. It really feels good, and I'm proud of the kids ,and I'm glad that they feel good," Head Coach Chris Sperry said.

After facing some tougher opponents in the front half of the season, the hard work finally started to pay off. Sperry feels playing teams like No. 10 Mississippi State and No. 9 Oregon prepared the Pilots well going into WCC play.

"We've played 10 ranked opponents and we still have more to face, but the hope is that playing tougher competition is going to prepare us as we get into the conference," Sperry said.

With some help late from the bullpen, closer junior pitcher Jeremy Burright was called on to bring things home for Portland. He retired Santa Clara's final two batters, earning himself the save.

"I was just excited to be out there, it's always fun when you get to go out there in a close ball game," Burright said. "Colin did such a good job of bridging the gap and he's just been fantastic for us this year."

The players shared their coach's excitement. Senior Brian Fratalli was especially excited after the game as he looked forward to Oregon State on Tuesday.

"We won the first two, but we weren't satisfied, we wanted the full sweep and the win today propels us into Oregon State and the rest of the season," Fratalli said.

While the Pilots have not seen recent success against the Beavers, they hope for the momentum to carry them into Corvallis. Freshman outfielder Ryan Barr feels like the Pilots will compete with Oregon State on Tuesday, April 2.

"They're a real good team, but we're going to go down there and we're going to battle," Barr said.

Portland battled late into the game on Tuesday, April 2 against the No. 6 ranked Beavers, but Oregon State rallied late to defeat the Pilots. With a 2-1 Portland lead going into the bottom of the sixth, the Beavers would score twice and then four times more in the seventh to clinch a 7-5 victory in Corvallis.

While it may have been a tough loss, but the Pilots bounced back on the road to take down Seattle University 12-6 on April 3. The win and the series sweep give them momentum to carry them into further WCC play.

The Pilots return home to host WCC rival Gonzaga for a three game series starting Friday, April 5.

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

Senior outfielder Kramer Scott sprints to first in order beat out a throw. Scott is one of the veterans of the team helping the young and talented team surpass expectations. (Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

Freshman outfielder Ryan Barr celebrates with his teammates after being walked in for the game-winning run in the tenth inning of a tied game against Santa Clara on March 28. With three games in two days, the Pilots swept their first series of the season to improve their WCC conference record to 3-2. (Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)

(Becca Tabor | THE BEACON)