by Matt Spencer
The Whitworth baseball team was on fire last weekend, sweeping the Whitman Missionaries in a three-game series. After winning Saturday’s games 10-4 and 18-1, the Pirates closed the weekend out with a 10-5 victory on Sunday. For the undefeated 11-win Whitworth baseball team the formula for success was the same; making the most of every opportunity.
Every mistake made by the Missionaries was punished throughout the weekend. It started with a home run by junior Garrett Hughes in the 6-4 ballgame in the bottom of the seventh-inning of the first game.
“I was just trying to react to something. [The pitcher] got the ball elevated and I put a good swing on it,” Hughes said.
But for coach Dan Ramsay the mistake was no accident.
“We are really aggressive on the basepaths and it gets pitchers thinking about our baserunners so much that they fail to realize they have to face our hitters. They elevate pitches and we have done a good job punishing them in those situations,” Ramsay said.
The Pirates delivered five home runs over the three-game span; two of which were hit by senior Jeremy Druffel. In game three, Druffel finished with three hits including two home runs and four runs batted in.
In game two, Whitworth’s patience at the plate lead to victory. Whitman pitchers combined for 11 walks and hit six Pirate hitters, most of which came around to score. Whenever Missionary pitchers would walk or hit someone, the next batter was right there to knock them in with a run batted in.
Defensively, sophomore pitcher TJ Orchard was aggressive and efficient. Orchard pitched six scoreless innings as Whitworth built a 5-0 early lead. In four of his six innings Orchard was able to throw less than 12 pitches.
“Attack and throw strikes from the start,” was the pitching game plan, Orchard said.
That mentality spilled over to fellow pitcher, junior AJ Milyard. Milyard entered the sixth inning of game three in a tie at 5-5. The pitcher went on to throw five strong innings surrendering only one hit to Whitman.
Defensively and offensively, the baseball team has been extremely effective this season. Every game a handful of Pirates are stepping up to contribute when it is most needed. These contributions have roots in the competitive persona of the team.
“They are competitive. The kids don’t like to lose,” coach Ramsay said. “We see it in practice too. Anytime we go down a run or two, our offense finds a way to punch back. That’s been the characteristic of this team that is starting to define ourselves as one that does not like to lose.”
Next weekend’s games against George Fox begin on Saturday with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. and then again at 2 p.m. before the final game on Sunday at noon.