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Pilots will try to put the brakes on latest skid

Chris Sperry, the University of Portland baseball coach, sounds pretty frustrated these days.

'The mistakes we make are routine mistakes. A lot of physical mistakes,' he says. 'Plays that should be made.'

Against Utah Valley State on Tuesday, Pilot pitchers walked three leadoff hitters, who all scored. The Pilots made five errors, including two on attempted pickoff moves. Three more errors on Wednesday led to eight unearned runs in an 11-8 loss to Utah Valley State that dropped UP to 3-18.

In the past two years, Sperry's teams have 12 wins Ñ a 12-63-1 record. He has a 116-237-1 record in six-plus seasons.

'The pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves,' he says. 'I haven't quit on them. They seem to be holding up all right. I don't see a lack of work ethic. I see enough talent out there, that if they go back to doing the things that got them here, they'd be all right.'

The Pilots, who open a three-game, West Coast Conference home series today against Pepperdine, are hitting .247.

'We don't have a good approach at the plate,' Sperry says. 'We get fooled a lot.'

Travis Vetters, a sophomore third baseman from Port Orchard, Wash., leads the team in batting (.354), hits (29), triples (3), RBIs (12) and slugging percentage (.524). Junior Mike McRae has five home runs, all coming in a seven-game span.

Gustaf Little, a second baseman from Westview High, was named WCC player of the week on March 15 after leading the Pilots to three wins.

Pitchers have a 6.44 ERA, although Matt Peters (2.87 ERA) 'doesn't walk a lot of guys and pitches with control,' Sperry says. Given Kutz has had some good outings also.

Sperry concludes: 'We're trying to figure this thing out.'

Notes

Could this be the season Oregon State, led by 10th-year coach Pat Casey, gets into the NCAA playoffs? É The challenge starts today as OSU (14-6) opens Pacific-10 Conference play with a three-game series at California. É Sophomore outfielder Jacob Ellsbury, from Madras, has hit in nine consecutive games, raising his average to .417. É Reliever Jason McCormick hasn't allowed an earned run in 142Ú3 innings. Closer Dallas Buck has five saves. É Andy Baldwin was named Pac-10 pitcher of the week Tuesday after pitching six scoreless innings against Utah Valley State, in which he and Kevin Gunderson combined for a 7-0 shutout. It improved Baldwin's record to 4-2 and his ERA to 2.67. É Tony Calderon, who hit .362 last season, has slumped to below .200.

Lewis & Clark started 10-1 under second-year coach Reed Rainey, including a two-game sweep of Portland, but had slipped to 10-9 entering the week. É Dan Barth (.349), Bryce Roby (.349) and Greg Williams (.300) are the top hitters among the regulars. É Eric Maroncelli was 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA. Peter Young, who threw a no-hitter earlier in the year, was 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA.