by Jackson Bell | Staff Writer
The Whitworth Pirates were able to split a four game series with the Pacific Lutheran Lutes this weekend after two double-headers at Merkel Field.
After two brutal losses on Saturday, 15-6 and 10-3, the Pirates made a huge comeback on Sunday, beating the Lutes 5-4 in a tough conference game, then punishing the PLU bullpen in a huge 17-5 victory.
The first game Saturday was characterized by a torrential downpour that halted play in the ninth inning, but continued shortly thereafter.
Landon Packard led the Lutes’ lineup, going 6-10 at the plate with seven RBIs, three doubles, and two homers on Saturday alone.
The Pirates’ lineup was lackluster in the first game versus senior Jacob Gleichman, batting for only nine hits compared to the Lutes’ 22. The Lutes also hit for an impressive .468 that nearly doubled the Pirates’ .264 average.
PLU started the opener off with a bang, scoring two runs in the first inning and another four in the second, partially thanks to a three-run homer by Packard. Whitworth came back with two runs in the second but then were held to zero until the eighth when Jordan McGowan, ‘17, drove in fellow senior Jacob Yamane from first on a double to right field. The next inning, the Pirates attempted a comeback but were cut short at only three runs, bringing the final score to 15-6.
From the mound, Hugh Smith, ’19, gave up 10 hits and seven earned runs before leaving the game after three innings. This loss brings his record to 2-3 for the season.
The second game on Saturday was nearly as impressive as the first for the Lutes offense, who finished with 19 hits and 10 runs scored.
This time, the Pirates held the Lutes scoreless until the third inning, when Anthony Gosline, ’18, drove in one run off a double, and was followed shortly by a two-RBI home run from Packard. PLU then proceeded to score seven unanswered runs until the bottom of the sixth, when Pirate senior Matthew Nelson hit a three-run homer, scoring McGowan and Yamane.
After the home run though,PLU hammered the nail in the coffin with three more runs in the ninth to bring the final score to 10-3, and earning the win for Chad Gideon,’20, improving his record to 4-0. The loss was credited to sophomore Ryan Kingma, bringing him to 3-1 on the year.
On Sunday, the tides changed, and Whitworth began hitting the ball and stringing together big innings allowing them to take both games.
The first game on Sunday was the final conference game of the series. The Lutes took an early advantage in the first inning, when Gosline scored an unearned run after an error by senior Daniel Casanova. PLU scored another run in the second on a single by Connor Cantu.
Whitworth answered back in the second on a sacrifice fly to center that drove in senior Ryan Bird. Whitworth then proceeded to take their first lead of the weekend in the fourth, scoring senior Nate Lamberty, sophomore Jacob Silva and Casanova.
In the sixth, a two-run homer from Welch tied the game up at four, where it remained until the bottom of the eighth when the game winning runner, Casanova, scored from second on a deep single to left field by Nelson.
Matthew Young, ’20, started the game, and gave up 11 hits but only three earned runs. The reliever, Darren Crosby, ’18, would be credited with the win, and Kelly Fitzpatrick, ’17, earned the save.
“We needed it, we absolutely needed it. It’s good to be able to see our guys respond after kinda getting thumped yesterday, and then turn around and do the thumping today”, Coach Dan Ramsey said after the first win on Sunday.
The 17-5 win on Sunday would turn out to be a season record for runs scored for the Pirates.
“The momentum will carry into the next practice week and especially into the games against Whitman,” said Ramsey.
Led offensively by power hitters McGowan and Nelson, the Pirates took advantage of the weakened PLU bullpen by earning 15 hits and 11 walks. The Bucs lineup strung together hit after hit, driving in six in the third, four in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the seventh, and four more in the eighth. Four of McGowan’s 6 RBIs of the game came from a grand slam in the fourth.
The split moved the Pirates to 10-8 overall and 4-7 in conference.The Pirates will play make-up games at Whitman this Wednesday, March 22, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.