All coach Geoff Loomis and Pacific Lutheran University baseball can do is wait for a possible at-large berth to the NCAA Division III West Regional tournament.
After an 8-2 loss to Whitworth in the Northwest Conference tournament Sunday — the Pirates won the inaugural tournament championship and earned the automatic qualifying spot with the win — the Lutes are hoping for an at-large berth for their first postseason bid since 2007.
“We hope so,” Loomis said. “We’ve been down that road before, though. We’ve had years when we’ve won 30-plus games and not gotten an at-large bid.”
The 28-11 Lutes — who won the NWC regular season title and were ranked No. 1 in the West — await the announcement of the at-large teams May 10.
The Lutes needed to beat Whitworth twice Sunday to win the NWC tournament but ran into trouble early as JT Phelan’s two-run double helped the Pirates take a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
“We didn’t get off to a very good start,” Loomis said. “And when you don’t get off to a good start and play catch-up all day, it’s tough.”
The Lutes allowed three more runs in the fourth and one in the sixth — all a product of fielding errors. PLU made four errors in the game, leading to six unearned runs.
Lutes pitcher Lee Larson gave up four runs — none of them earned — on two hits in 32/3 innings.
“I think our team does a really good job of flushing mistakes and trying to capitalize next time we get a chance,” said Larson, a Puyallup High grad. “It just didn’t go our way today.”
Curtis Wildung’s solo homer in the third cut PLU’s deficit to 4-2. Jacob Clements hit a RBI double in the second and Fife grad Collin Nilson was 2 for 4 with a double for PLU.
Cory Mack — a fifth-year senior transfer from Seattle University — earned the win for the 28-13 Pirates by striking out six in seven innings.
“Coming here and beating them twice was huge,” Mack said. “We knew if we could bury them early on, we could finish them.”
The Lutes host the four-team, double-
elimination PLU tournament this weekend to try to enhance their chances of receiving an at-large berth.
“It’s going to be big if we can win those games,” Loomis said. “And maybe we can maintain a high seeding in the region.”