DIII baseball — George Fox continues its hot start to improve to 15-2 overall, 5-1 in conference play

George Fox bounced back from its first defeat of the Northwest Conference season March 4 at Lewis & Clark by sweeping a three-game set over Pacific Sunday and Monday, but needed every bit of good pitching and defense it could get to survive the pesky Boxers.

The Bruins fell 6-3 to the Pioneers in a game that had been postponed due to weather and managed just three runs in their first two home games of the season Sunday, but prevailed 2-1 and 1-0 (11 innings) before completing the sweep Monday with a 3-0 SETH GORDON - Airborne - Zac Israel dives to home plate to score the winning run in the 11th inning of George Fox's 1-0 victory over Pacific Sunday.

“The pitchers certainly saved our bacon,” head coach Marty Hunter said of the doubleheader win Sunday. “Every single team in our conference can beat you if you don’t show up and play well. That’s going to happen. We’ve had a handful of close games, some extra-inning games and our guys are doing a good job playing through those.”

Clay Gartner tossed a complete-game five-hitter in the opener Sunday, running his record to 5-0 on the season and upping his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 26 before Kyle Treadway blasted a home run in the seventh. That streak stands as the second best in GFU history and Gartner added a career-high 14 strikeouts with no walks.

Josh Rapacz notched a two-out infield single in the first inning to register the Bruins’ first run, with brother Zach Rapacz scoring the game winner on a Zac Israel single in the fourth.

Sunday’s night cap epitomized just how hard GFU had to work in order to overcome Pacific (3-8, 0-6), which fell into the conference cellar following the sweep.

The Bruins could not get on the board in nine innings against Pacific lefty Colin McCusker, despite collecting nine hits and three walks, while George Fox starter Ian Buckles allowed two hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Sean Eberhardt retired the side in order in both the eighth and ninth innings before giving way to Connor Harris in the 10th. It was in that frame that Pacific came closest to breaking through, but Christian Jarnigan struck out Ben Duerr to escape a two-out, bases-loaded jam.

by: SETH GORDON - Mobbed - Zac Israel (15) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the winning run in the 11th inning of George Fox's 1-0 victory over Pacific Sunday.Jarnagin, batting for the first time since his junior year of high school, also contributed to the game-winning rally in the bottom of the 11th, bunting to advance Israel, who had singled earlier, to second.

Reliever Nathan Suyematsu then got Matthew Zeller to hit a ground ball to short stop, but the throw was low and Treadway was unable to haul it in, allowing Israel to score from third and set off a wild celebration at home plate.

“Everything we do is focused toward these situations,” Jarnagin said. “Everything we do in practice we focus on those one- and two-run ball games so that when it comes to those situations, it’s easy for us. We can make those plays, we can make those pitches, we can get the clutch hits. It’s something we really pride ourselves on and I think it’s an awesome thing.”

The Bruins posted three runs in the second inning Monday, getting a Clay Mott RBI single and back-to-back squeeze bunts by Kadyn Nannini and Zeller, and that was more than enough for hurler Tom Zarosinski.

The righty allowed two hits and added 12 strikeouts to move into the conference lead in that category while improving to 4-1 on the season.

“They made pitches every time they had to,” Hunter said of his pitching staff. “Hopefully, we can keep doing that. I thought we played good defense this weekend. We just have to keep battling at the plate and that will turn around.”

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