Pair of Triples, Strong Outing from Welmon Result in 100th Victory of Gill's Career
Matt Lowenstein and Zac Fujimoto each tripled as Colin Welmon allowed just one unearned run over seven innings.
April 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU baseball team (17-16, 6-4 WCC) had just one triple entering Friday's series-opener against Portland (20-13, 7-6 WCC), but the Lions managed a pair of crucial three-baggers to support a strong pitching outing from freshman Colin Welmon as LMU defeated the Pilots by a count of 5-3 at LMU's Page Stadium to hand Head Coach Jason Gill his 100th career victory.
Matt Lowenstein notched his second triple of the year to set up a run in the first inning as part of a 2-for-3 day out of the leadoff spot before Zac Fujimoto cleared the bases with a three-RBI triple in the sixth to hand LMU the lead. Fujimoto finished the day batting 2-for-3 with the three RBI. Junior Colton Plaia continued his hot hitting on Friday, batting a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk out of the cleanup spot.
After a pair of losses in his last two outings, Welmon righted the ship on Friday by tossing seven strong innings, allowing just one unearned run in the first inning en route to improving to 5-3 with the victory. The right-hander, who had walked just four batters all year, walked three on Friday but managed to pitch around the free passes. Junior Aaron Griffin pitched a scoreless eighth before getting into trouble in the ninth with one out. The right-hander allowed a pair of runs to score in the final frame before closer Bret Dahlson entered and retired the only two batters he faced to earn his seventh save of the season.
Portland, which entered with the second-best ERA in the nation, got a pretty good start from right-hander Kyle Kraus. Kraus dealt seven innings, allowing four runs (one earned) while striking out five before being tagged with the loss to fall to 5-3.
Brian Frattali led the offensive charge for Portland, finishing 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two RBI. Turner Gill and Zack McCoy also had a pair of hits, with Gill driving in a run.
Portland wasted no time getting on the board on Friday, scoring an unearned run in the top of the first inning after taking advantage of a Lion error. Welmon got the leadoff man before Nick Armenta singled into right field to get the inning going. The Lions nearly escaped the inning with a double play, but the turn from Cullen Mahoney sailed wide of the bag and into the Lion dugout to hand the runner an extra 90 feet. Gill contributed the run-scoring hit on the ensuing play, lining a single into centerfield to put the Pilots on the board.
Lowenstein punched right back for LMU in the bottom of the first, lacing a triple into right field to set the table for a RBI-groundout from Shon Roe to even the tally at one run.
After a run each in the first inning, a pitcher's duel broke out between Welmon and Kraus. Both pitchers worked out of a few jams while throwing zeroes up through the top of the sixth. Portland stranded seven runners from the second through the sixth, as Welmon dodged bullets throughout. LMU finally broke up the zeroes with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-1 lead, with all the runs unearned after a costly error charged to Kris Kauppila at shortstop. Plaia reached with a one-out walk before a single from Alex Guthrie put runners at first and second. Kraus struck out the next hitter for the second out of the inning, but Nick Devian reached on the error to keep the inning alive for Fujimoto. The left-handed hitting speedster recorded LMU's second triple of the game, beating the shallow centerfielder with a ball into right centerfield to clear the bases.
The Lions added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, stretching the lead to 5-1 headed into the ninth. With J.R. Bunda now on the hill for Portland, Plaia collected his third hit of the day on the first pitch of the inning before taking second on a broken pick off play. Alex Guthrie followed with his 30th career hit-by-pitch to move into ninth all-time in that category and put runners at first and second before a line out resulted in the first out of the inning without advancing the runners. Devian came up clutch on the very next play, lacing his second hit of the day back up the middle to chase home Plaia and LMU's fifth run of the game.
Portland threatened in the top of the ninth, putting the first two hitters aboard with a walk and a single before both runners came around to score on a two-RBI double inside the bag at third off the bat of Frattali to cut the Lion lead to 5-3. Fortunately for LMU, Dahlson entered and ended the threat, striking out Chet Thompson before getting Jeff Melby to ground out to shortstop to end the game and seal the victory.
LMU and Portland will continue the three-game series tomorrow with a game at 2 p.m.