What a difference a day makes— 24 short hours. For the Sea Lions, the sunshine and flowers were on Thursday at Carroll B. Land Stadium. One day and one 361-mile bus ride later, the rain and showers fell at FPU Diamond.
After a devastating clean sweep from Vanguard University last weekend, PLNU was ecstatic to sweep the visiting Sunbirds 2-0 and 4-3 at home on Thursday. The Sea Lions’ joy was squashed in the Central Valley on Saturday though, losing 1-2 and 5-7.
William Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” If we don’t expect anything, we will never be let down. Well, no offense to Bill, but that adage doesn’t really work in sports.
Every athlete must expect to win. It is an elementary concept: a team must have confidence and an expectation to win; those that don’t will most likely have a harder time doing so.
So, when a team that expects to win doesn’t, the heartache is even more heart aching. In order to gain confidence, one must be confident. In order to win, one must expect to win.
If you’re having a hard time understanding this Mr. Miyagi Yoda-speak, just know this: it’s a vicious cycle, and the Sea Lions are stuck in the middle of it.
Why don’t we just highlight the positives now?
Justin Lawrence’s name will now be printed in the university record books after handing out 15 strikeouts in Thursday’s opener. The right-hander, who transferred from San Diego Mesa College, is tied for third with PLNU Hall of Famer Marty Decker (1980 vs. Cal Lutheran). Lawrence was just three strikeouts short of the school record for most strikeouts in a single contest; that belongs to Dan Auchard (1995 vs. Northwest Nazarene).
The Sunbirds couldn’t touch Lawrence, now 5-2, as he dealt seven scoreless innings on 119 pitches. Garret Levsen took the ball in relief and struck out three more. The unmerciful combination of Lawrence and Levsen made sure only nine FPU batters even made contact with the ball. If you are unaware, that’s huge. Hits dropped in right where they needed to be.
The nightcap started off a little scary when Chris Gonzales walked the first three batters. Freshman Sam Sadler took over and kept damage to a minimum though. Josh Dexheimer and Dani Schlarmann also put in time on the mound and kept the Sunbirds bridled. The score was locked at 3-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Bryan Burkhead knocked an RBI walk-off single down the right field line to win the game.
The Sea Lions were happy.
Flash forward to Saturday.
Tyler Garkow pitched an eight-inning gem, allowing just four hits and one earned run, striking out eight. Despite a great outing for the right-handed transfer, the Sea Lions still lost and put Garkow’s name on it.
A pair of first-inning PLNU errors handed the Sunbirds their first run, and consequently gave them the win.
FPU scored all seven of its runs in the first two innings of Saturday’s nightcap. Freshman southpaw Garrett Gooding was on the mound to start the game. He later got help from Schlarmann, Levsen and Nolan Stouder. The Sea Lions finally scored five runs in the seventh inning, but it was just too late. The rain came down and ended the game two innings short.
Gooding fell to 1-1 on the year, as the Sea Lions are now 8-16 in the GSAC. The team will travel to Phoenix on Thursday to take on Arizona Christian University. Following the Easter holiday, PLNU will take on Cal State San Marcos for a three-game series.
They will finally return to conference play on Thursday, April 19, against Biola University. PLNU has just eight conference games left and will need a strong finish to be among the six teams to qualify for the GSAC postseason tournament.