by Matt Spencer
Whitworth’s baseball team has continued its trend of putting runs on the board, posting another 15 runs in a three-game series against the Pacific Lutheran Lutes last weekend. The Pirates (14-4) won the last two games of the series 3-1 and 7-3 after losing the first game of series, 6-5.
For Whitworth, run production has been a major part of their strong start. Whitworth leads the Northwest Conference with 144 runs produced over their first 18 games. That success has been achieved in part by their ability to hit with power, as the Pirates lead the conference with a .467 batting percentage.
Sophomore JT Phelan was a big part of this weekend’s success. Phelan went three for four on Sunday with an insurance RBI in the seventh inning.
“We have a pretty potent offensive lineup,” Phelan said. “We can swing it from top to bottom which is huge. And we are starting to hit our stride.”
But Phelan was not the only hot bat over the weekend. Junior transfer Jordan McGowan, formerly playing for Spokane Falls, had a big game Sunday as well.
McGowan used a simple approach at the plate to extend the Whitworth lead in the seventh. This mentality allowed the junior to swing freely as he went three for four day at the plate including a double and a pair of RBIs.
On Saturday, junior Garrett Hughes helped produce offensively in a variety of ways. Over the first two games of the series, Hughes went five for seven with a double, stolen base, two RBIs and two runs scored. The production was a culmination of a strong team effort.
“This week we really focused on team at-bats and trying to make things happen,” Hughes said. “With runners in scoring position, having a good at-bat for the team and not yourself to get things done.”
Whitworth was able to have a success throughout the weekend at the plate. And head coach Dan Ramsay says that the offense is given its life by the way their pitchers have worked all season.
“When they hold teams at bay for long enough, it allows our hitters to get comfortable and settle in,” Ramsay said.
Pitchers had a strong showing throughout the weekend as well. Sophomore TJ Orchard earned his second victory going eight innings allowing only one run. On Sunday, freshmen Ryan Kingma threw seven plus innings only allowing three runs as the Pirates were able to extend their lead late in the game.
Overall, it was a big weekend for the Pirates who were able to bounce back from a three loss weekend. Their two victories put them back at the top of the conference standings. And more importantly, the wins came against the defending regular season champion Lutes.
“Taking a series from PLU is big,” Ramsay said. “Knowing that we have a series win under our belt against them is extremely important.”
Whitworth seeks to continue this momentum when they head over this Saturday to Puget Sound in Tacoma for another three game series.