PARKLAND, Wash. – Pacific Lutheran rode a complete-game, three-hit pitching performance by Stacey Hagensen and six runs batted in from Kaaren Hatlen to shock top-ranked Linfield 10-2 in the opening game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader Saturday at the PLU diamond. The game was shortened to six innings by the eight-run rule.
The start of the twinbill was delayed by nearly three hours by rain, ultimately causing the second game to be suspended by darkness in the bottom of the fifth inning with Linfield holding a 6-3 lead. The game will be completed at a later date.
While it is only one game in an otherwise long 28-game NWC season, there's little arguing that the Lutes’ lopsided win over the seven-time NWC champions was a wake up call for the entire conference.
PLU improved to 7-4 overall and 6-1 in the conference, while Linfield dropped to 8-1 overall and also in conference action.
Linfield came into the game with a .489 team batting average and 20 home runs, and they had out-scored their opponents, 104-12, in eight previous contests. Hagensen, who improved her record to 5-1, was in control throughout, limiting the 'Cats to just three hits while walking two and striking out two. Only one of the runs she allowed was earned, and that came on a home run by Karleigh Prestianni, her second of the season, in the second inning.
Prestianni's home run gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth before the Lutes scored four times on three hits and an error. They loaded the bases on a bunt single by Amanda Goings, a Linfield error, and a walk. Hatlen cleared the sacks with the double to left center, and she later scored on a base hit by Lindsey Matsunaga.
Linfield got one run back in the fourth on a hit batter, a walk, a single by Prestianni and a fielding error, but the Wildcats couldn’t draw closer, despite loading the bases with one out.
The Lutes ended the game in dramatic fashion with a six-run sixth inning. Matsunaga hit a double to lead off the inning, moved up a base on Lauren Watson's sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a Linfield error. Goings followed with her first home run as a Lute, driving the ball the other way over the left field fence. After Kaely Cuthill reached on another Wildcats fielding error and Hagensen walked, Hatlen ended the game with a three-run homer over the fence in center field.
PLU finished the game with nine hits, including three each by Hatlen and Matsunaga and two by Goings. Prestianni had two of Linfield's three hits.
Claire Velaski took the loss, her first of the season against four victories.
In the suspended second game, Linfield scored twice in the first, only to see the Lutes reply with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Emilee Lepp tied the game with solo homer in the top of the third, and Linfield added three more runs in the top of the fourth before the game was suspended.
Weather permitting, Linfield heads across town to play Puget Sound in a two-game set Sunday starting at noon.
2-for-3, including a home run
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