by Matt Spencer
The Whitworth baseball team began its season this weekend by heading to Wilsonville to take on a trio of Northwest Conference foes in non-conference action.
In the opener against the Loggers, Whitworth responded early in the game tying it up in the 3rd inning with two runs. But timely Puget Sound hitting in the later innings eventually prevailed as Hugh Smith, ‘19, 1st Team All-NWC 2016 selection, lost only his second game in a Pirate uniform. The Whitworth offense had its chances, stranding 8 runners.
Against Lewis and Clark, the Whitworth pitching staff dominated in a 4-0 shutout. Ryan Kingma (1-0) went strong through 5 innings, collecting 4 strikeouts while scattering three hits and a walk. Then, Whitworth transfer Darren Crosby, a sophomore from Northwest Nazarene, came in to complete the shutout by throwing four strong innings of his own.
For Crosby, the outing was his first appearance as a Pirate and provided a good opportunity to pitch in some valuable innings early this season. Crosby was nervous for his first start at Whitworth but once he was on the mound again the game speed allowed him to get in the zone.
“I just cleared my mind and played baseball,” Crosby said. “I felt like I did a great job of keeping a quick pace on the mound and I didn’t think about it, I just did it.”
Whitworth baseball carried over the momentum from their first victory into the weekend finale on Sunday. The Pirates exploded for 15 runs in a 15-4 win over the Willamette Bearcats.
Heading into the 7th inning, Whitworth maintained a comfortable 8-3 lead with strong hitting by the top half of the lineup. Leadoff man Daniel Casanova went 3 for 4 with four runs scored and two runs driven in. Matt Nelson piled on, going 2 for 5 with another two runs batted in.
Senior Jacob Yamane put an exclamation mark on the weekend, hitting a grand slam in the 7th to extend the Pirate lead to 12. Yamane finished the day with 3 hits and 5 RBIs while freshmen pitcher Matthew Young picked up the win on the mound.
Next up for the baseball team is a five game road trip through California as Whitworth takes on the Pomona schools Friday through Sunday before heading to Redlands on Monday.
To follow Whitworth baseball on the road, check out their schedule.