After just a single win in their first five competitions, the Titans looked to turn things around in a four-game series against the Bellevue Bulldogs at PK Park in Eugene on March 16-17.
“We started 1-11 last year and ended up third in the NWAC, and with so many returning players and the strength of our early schedule, the guys realize that it’s just part of the process,” Head Coach Josh Blunt said on this year’s slow start.
In the preseason poll released by the Northwest Junior College Poll Committee, the Bulldogs were ranked third, just one spot ahead of the Titans. Bellevue came into this series winning just one of their last four.
Both teams struggled to get on base early in the first game with just two hits in the first three innings. Sophomore outfielder Colton Sakamoto was the first Titan to record a hit with a bunt as he safely made it to first base. Sakamoto finished with two hits and one run in four plate appearances for Lane.
Sophomore Bryce Mulcahy got the starting pitching job for the Titans Friday afternoon. In just over five innings pitched, Mulcahy struck out six batters and allowed just one run for a 3.46 ERA.
By the end of the fourth inning, both teams had managed to score one run each. The score wouldn’t change until the seventh inning when Bellevue first baseman Jared Maxfield hit a double, driving in a Bulldog run. Bellevue led 2-1 after that play.
“They score, we score!” Lane pitcher Jesse Davis chanted from the dugout as the Bulldogs took the lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Titans proceeded to load the bases with just one out. After an errant pitch, Titan Jimmy McDonald attempted to steal home and succeeded after he evaded the outstretched arm of the Bellevue catcher. That stolen base tied the game at 2-2, with the momentum on Lane’s side.
That momentum propelled Lane to a 3-2 victory in the first game of Friday evening’s doubleheader. Although Mulcahy got the start, freshman Riley Howard earned the win with six strikeouts in two innings pitched. Titans Logan Zozaya and Tielar Murray recorded one RBI each.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Titans scored a season-high six runs in their second straight win. Seven of the nine Titans in the batting order recorded at least one hit in the Titans’ 6-3 victory over the Bulldogs.
“It was very good to get two good wins against a very good Bellevue team, and hopefully we can build on that for Saturday’s games,” Blunt said after they took down the Bulldogs in back-to-back games.