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Boxers upend reigning champs

BASEBALL: Pacific takes three of four from defending conference champ Pacific Lutheran over the weekend

Pacific's first scheduled home baseball series of the year was moved to the University of Portland's Joe Etzel Field due to lingering construction delays at Lincoln Park, but the last-minute change of venue did little to cool senior Matt Hendryx's hot bat.

Hendryx, who missed most of the 2007 season due to injury, had an explosive weekend at the plate, bashing three home runs and driving in nine runs as the Boxers took three of four games from defending Northwest Conference champion Pacific Lutheran.

'Matt had a great series and hit for average and power,' said Pacific head coach Greg Bradley. 'On top of that, he had a number of clutch hits at the right times that made a difference in winning and losing games.'

Hendryx went 7-for-12 in the four-game series and posted a .688 on-base percentage. The senior catcher's eye-popping stats helped earn him NWC Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. Hendryx, a Seaside High School product, is now batting .390 on the season with a team-high five home runs and 17 RBIs.

After dropping a mid-week game against Corban, the Boxers (5-7, 4-4) bounced back with a stellar showing over the weekend against Pacific Lutheran (5-6, 2-5). Pacific swept Saturday's afternoon doubleheader, then won once more on Sunday to take the series from the defending conference champs. The only blemish was a 10-2 loss in the opener on Sunday.

Pacific got a strong start from Sean Dickey in Game 1 on Saturday but still trailed 3-2 after six and a half innings. Pacific senior Nick McNeely won it for the Boxers with a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler Fransen (1-1) earned the win for Pacific with three innings of two-hit relief.

The Boxers fell behind early in Game 2, but Hendryx made sure the deficit didn't last. The senior belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the first, then added a two-run single in the second to put Pacific ahead 6-1. The Boxers never looked back, coasting to an 11-1 victory. Blaine Knuth (1-2) earned the win, allowing one run on four hits over eight innings.

The weekend's lone setback came in the early game on Saturday, with Pacific Lutheran belting 10 hits to earn a 10-2 victory. Three Pacific pitchers split the mound duties, but Jason Reed (1-1) took the loss, giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Lutes seemed to be on their way to salvaging a series split in Game 2 with a five-run second inning, but Hendryx and the Pacific offense were able to battle back for a huge 8-7 victory.

Trailing 5-0, Hendryx belted a solo home run to get the Boxers started in the bottom of the second. The senior added a three-run bomb to left field in the fourth, cutting Pacific Lutheran's lead to 5-4. Pacific went ahead for good in the fifth inning on an RBI double by McNeely and a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Korey Yost.

Brandon Larson (1-2) got the win for Pacific, allowing six runs on seven hits in six innings of work. Kyle Barksdale earned the save, his first of the season.