by Andrew Goodwin | Sports Editor
With a potential postseason berth on the line, the Whitworth Pirates snagged a series win over Puget Sound, moving them from eighth place in the Northwest Conference to sixth.
The wins leapfrogged the Bucs over Whitman and Pacific in the Northwest Conference standings. Whitworth is competing with Puget Sound, Whitman and George Fox for the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament. The Pirates now own series wins over two of those three squads.
Whitworth won the crucial rubber match 6-2 on Monday after splitting Saturday’s doubleheader with an 11-9 win and 4-1 loss.
Freshman pitcher Matthew Young continued to be one of the Bucs most consistent contributors on the mound on Monday. Young tossed seven strong innings. He allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out six Loggers.
On the offensive end, Jacob Silva, ‘19, drove in a pair of runs with a seventh inning single to close out a four run rally, which sealed the deal for the Bucs in game three. Daniel Casanova also picked up a pair of RBIs on the day.
Monday’s game wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much had the Pirates not scratched out a comeback win on Saturday.
Game one saw the Pirates get behind early as Puget Sound jumped out to 4-1 and 7-5 leads. A pair of errors by junior shortstop Joel Condreay and senior first baseman Matt Nelson combined to allow the Loggers to score three runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Then, Hugh Smith, ‘19, struggled on the mound in the fifth inning, giving up three more runs. Smith threw five innings, and gave up four earned runs while striking out nine Loggers.
Fortunately for Smith and the defense, the Whitworth offense went right to work on those deficits. The Bucs eked runs across in four of the first five innings thanks to fielder’s choices, errors, and a balk. Over the course of the game 20 Pirates would reach base, but Whitworth stranded 11 of those runners.
Despite finding various ways to score runners early in the ballgame, the Bucs’ headed into the top of the ninth down 7-5. In the ninth, Nelson made up for his earlier error with a sacrifice fly to score Garrett Hughes, ‘17, and cut the deficit to one. Silva then knocked in the game-tying run with a single to center.
Neither team could break the deadlock until the top of the 11th inning. There, Hughes pummeled a home run to left field to give the Pirates an 8-7 lead. Nelson picked up his second RBI later in the inning to extend the lead to two runs.
From there, senior pitcher Kelly Fitzpatrick slammed the door on the Logger offense. Fitzpatrick and fellow reliever Darren Crosby, ‘19, combined for six scoreless innings. The duo struck out six Loggers and only allowed three hits.
Saturday’s second game wouldn’t be as kind to the Bucs. Logger pitcher Merle Rowan showed those in attendance why Puget Sound is the second best pitching team in the Northwest Conference as he shut down the Pirate offense.
The Bucs managed just four hits and one run against Rowan and closer Eric Crispel. The lone run came via the bat of Nelson, who continued his hot-hitting with a second-inning home run.
On the mound, Ryan Kingma’s home run problem persisted. The sophomore tossed a great game outside of a pair of long balls, but the three runs allowed on home runs were enough for the Loggers to sneak away with a doubleheader split.
The Bucs will look to continue rising up the conference standings this weekend as they take on Lewis & Clark. The Pioneers currently sit in last in the conference with a 4-19 overall record. The Bucs return home to take on the Pios in a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. The first games begin at noon and the second games are scheduled for 3 p.m.