Dixie State University’s 10-game winning streak came to an end over the weekend as it split a four-game series against Point Loma Nazarene University.
DSU came into the matchup against the Sea Lions sitting just one game back of first place in the Pacific West Conference, trailing only Cal Baptist University, a team the Trailblazers lost to three times earlier in the year.
In game one, DSU found themselves down quickly as the Sea Lions put up two runs in the first inning and four runs in the second inning to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Trailblazers finally got on the board as they platted two runs in the fourth but would not be able to make a comeback as PLNU cruised to victory, 8-3.
“They pitched lights out,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “It was probably the best pitching we’ve seen all year. It made it tough for our offense to compete. It was just the perfect storm.”
Redshirt junior infielder Drew McLaughlin led the Trailblazers offense going 4-4 while redshirt senior infielder Tanner Morache and redshirt junior catcher Reece Lucero each recorded a pair of hits in the contest.
DSU would record each of its first three runs in game two via solo homers. The first of which came off the bat of Morache as he led off the first inning. Redshirt sophomore first baseman Cam Gust would follow with a solo shot in the second inning.
Junior infielder Tyler Mildenberg gave DSU a 3-1 lead with a home run in the fifth inning. Mildenberg would finish the game going 2-3 with an RBI.
“I’m always ready to come in,” said Mildenberg, a sociology major from Huntington Beach, California. “I like to visualize what I want to happen whether I’m called to bunt or pitch hit, or whatever it may be.”
The wheels came off for the Trailblazers in the bottom of the fifth as they would allow five runs to cross the plate, relinquishing the lead for good, losing 7-5.
“We made some silly mistakes,” Pfatenhauer said. “Some people have struggled and some have played really well. We’re still working on playing at the right speed and tempo for our game.”
Sophomore pitcher Dylan File put up another stellar outing in the third game of the series as he pitched eight complete innings of work while scattering four hits and allowing his only two runs in the ninth inning. He struck out six on his way to securing his fourth victory of the season.
Behind File’s performance, the Trailblazers rode a two-run lead into the ninth inning where they put three runs on the board to win by a final score of 5-2.
The final game of the series saw junior pitcher Mason Hilty shut out the Sea Lions, allowing just five hits in his six complete innings.
“My mentality coming is was throwing strikes and trying to get ahead of batters,” said Hilty, an early childhood education major from Richland, Washington. “I wanted to keep the ball low and let my defense behind me help out.”
Redshirt senior first baseman Sam Hall opened up the first inning for the Trailblazers with a two-run homer to centerfield. Hall would also double home a run in the seventh as DSU notched its 30th win of the season by a score of 4-0.
“[File and Hilty] have been our most consistent pitchers all year,” Pfatenhauer said. “They made a few bad pitches, but overall, they pitched awesome. They were big time.”
The Trailblazers have a dozen games left on their regular season schedule, eight of which will be home games. They are currently 18-6 in the PacWest Conference. That record is good for second place behind CBU, whose own seven-game win streak was also busted over the weekend.
“It’s very important for us to get these wins at home,” Hilty said. “I think we are more confident at home and the atmosphere allows us to play better.”
DSU will set its sights on Azusa Pacific University as it welcomes the Cougars to Bruce Hurst Field for a series beginning Thursday. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 6 p.m.