by Jordanne Perry
With home runs and the first grand slam of the season, the Whitworth men’s baseball team won two games in a three-game series at home against Pacific last weekend. With their fourth win in the last five games, the Pirates improved their record to 10-19 overall and 7-11 in the Northwest Conference.
“I felt like we really played well as a team and we were able to have timely hitting,” junior catcher Joshua Davis said. “A lot of guys stepped up when we needed them. We played really loose and just had a great time playing ball.”
Game one of the series resulted in a 6-1 win in which junior starting pitcher Cory Mack commanded the mound through the first eight innings.
“There were times in the game where I would get a little off so I would take a step back, reset and then go back to work and it seemed to help whenever I got in trouble,” Mack said. “Just being able to reset and refocus was the best aspect of my game.”
With his older brother visiting from Alaska and his family attending the game for support, Mack made sure he did not disappoint the crowd with his performance, Mack said.
“The day was a little more special since I had family that came,” Mack said. “I wanted to make them proud so they’d say something like, ‘Hey, that’s my grandson.”
Mack struck out five Pacific batters and allowed only one unearned run on four hits before senior pitcher Taylor Isadore took over to finish out the game for the Pirates.
A single to right field from senior outfielder Tyler Pfeffer brought two Pirates home for the first two runs of the game in the fourth inning. Later in the same inning, Pacific’s shortstop made an error, allowing Davis to score. Pfeffer later scored on a single to right field by freshman first baseman Matt Nelson. Senior Justin Liu brought in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly.
“I think it takes hitters a little while to figure out opposing pitchers,” head coach Dan Ramsay said. “Once our guys saw their guy a couple of times they had him figured out and we’re able to push a few runs across the plate in the process.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Davis sealed the win for the Pirates with a solo home run to right field.
Game two of the series was a struggle for the Pirates as they lost, 6-2.
“I think the biggest difference was the performance of the winning pitchers on both ends of the doubleheader,” Ramsay said. “Cory Mack threw extremely well game one and [Pacific’s] starter did a really good job of keeping our hitters off balance throughout [game two].”
Two home runs from Pacific in the bottom of the first inning set the Pirates back early, as the score quickly turned to 3-0 in Pacific’s favor.
Davis quickly answered Pacific by hitting his second home run of the day and bringing home senior infielder Gerhard Muelheims to score two runs for the Pirates.
“It was a good feeling,” Davis said. “Everybody is going to have a good or bad day, and I guess that Saturday was a good one for me.”
In the eighth inning with a score of 6-2 Pacific, the Pirates had the bases loaded with one out. But a double play from second to first base terminated their chance to score and Pacific defeated the Pirates to tie the series.
Whitworth took ahold of the series in game three as junior starting pitcher Spencer Ansett allowed only five hits and threw 84 pitches as part of a complete game to shut out Pacific, 8-0.
The scoreboard remained blank until the fifth inning when Muelheims hit his first home run of the season to bring in two runs.
Back-to-back doubles were hit in the seventh inning by junior outfielder Thomas Wakem and Nelson to bring in two runs extending the Pirate’s lead to 4-0.
“When our lineup starts clicking on all cylinders we’re a very difficult team to face,” Ramsay said. “Our hitters were consistent with their plan and approach and it paid off in game three.”
Nelson made the biggest play of the game for the Pirates in the bottom of the eighth inning when he drilled a grand slam way over the right field fence to double the score 8-0 and put the game away.
“I went up to the plate just wanting to get the job done for Spencer [Ansett] and give him a couple more runs so he could go out and feel more comfortable pitching in the game,” Nelson said.
The men will play again this week in a Northwest Conference three-game series against Willamette in Salem, Ore.
“Our coaches have always said, ‘It’s just a game and it is the same game you’ve been playing ever since you were a little kid so just go out there and have fun with it,” Nelson said. “So we’re just going out there and having fun.”