Backes, Shelhamer go yard, but the Loggers open 2016 with losses

Photo by Patty Hosmer
Photo by Patty Hosmer

McMINNVILLE, OregonNathan Backes and Matt Shelhamer both homered in the first day of the 2016 season, but the Puget Sound baseball team lost two games in the Northwest Conference Preseason Tournament on Saturday.

Puget Sound 5, George Fox 7

The Bruins (2-0) put three runs on the board in the first inning and held 4-0 lead through three innings before the Loggers (0-2) got on the board. Nick Funyak reached base on a single in the fourth inning and advanced to scoring position on a throw. A wild pitch allowed Funyak to take third base, and Ben Jones drove in Puget Sound's first run with a single to short.

The Bruins got the run back in the bottom of the frame, but Puget Sound put runners on the corners in the fifth after Layne Croney reached on an error and Nickolas Alarcio followed with a single. Alarcio got caught up in a rundown while trying to steal second, but he managed to avoid getting tagged long enough for Croney to take home.

The Loggers entered the eighth inning with a 7-3 deficit when Chris Zerio led off with a single and stole second. Backes, who led the 2015 Loggers with four home runs, stepped to the plate and belted his first home run of 2016 to left field.

Puget Sound starting pitcher Collin Maier suffered the loss after allowing six runs (four earned) in 3.2 innings. The Loggers and Bruins both finished with nine hits and three errors.

Puget Sound 1, No. 14 Linfield 6

The Wildcats got on the board early by plating two runs in the first inning, and they built their lead to 5-0 with three more runs in the third.

Chris Zerio led off the fourth inning with a single and stole second base with one out. Layne Croney's ground out allowed Zerio to move to third, but Alex Sierra grounded out to the shortstop, ending the Loggers' scoring chance. Zerio reached scoring position again, this time with a two-out double in the sixth inning, but he was left stranded after Nathan Backes lined out to short.

Matt Shelhammer pinch hit for Nickolas Alarcio to lead off the ninth inning, and the Billings, Montana native delivered with a solo shot to centerfield.

Despite not yielding an earned run through four innings, Puget Sound starting pitcher Eric Crispell took the loss.

The Loggers conclude NWC Preseason Tournament with games against Lewis & Clark (2 p.m.) and Pacific (5 p.m.) on Sunday, Feb. 7, at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro, Oregon.



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