SPOKANE, Wash. – Centerfielder Jordan Payne drove in a pair of runs to lead visiting Lewis-Clark State to a 6-4 win over Whitworth in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday afternoon at Merkel Field.
The Warriors, ranked 9th in the latest NAIA baseball poll, improved to 33-10 with their second win over Whitworth this season. The Pirates fell to 20-13-1.
Tyler Pfeffer went 3-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in his quest for a Northwest Conference batting triple crown. He leads the NWC in home runs (10), RBIs (47) and is now second in batting average (.401).
LCSC took advantage of a dropped pop up leading off the third inning to score a pair of unearned runs in a three-run third inning. Payne's double scored Zach Holley, who had reached on the error, and Sal Arena. Braxton Miller's single drove in Payne for the third run of the inning.
Whitworth tied the game in the bottom half of the third. Erik Nikssarian and Nick Motsinger led off with back to back singles. Gerhard Muelheims attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but his bunt back to the mound allowed Motisinger to get thrown out at second. However a throw to get Muelheims for a double play went past first base, allowing Nikssarian to score and Muelheims to advance to second base. Pfeffer's second double of the game drove in Muelheims and Pfeffer eventually scored when JR Jarrell's ground ball to third base got through for an error.
The Warriors went ahead for good in the fourth inning. Starting pitcher Mitchell Wilhite drove in Kevin Hawk with a single to right field. Arena, who had stopped at third, was able to score when the ball got away from Nikssarian in right.
Whitworth had a chance for a big rally in the seventh when two walks and a single loaded the bases for Paul Miller. Terik Gofinch, who had come in to relieve Wilhite in the sixth, hit Miller with a pitch to pull the Pirates within 5-4. But Gofinch induced Kevin Valerio into a 1-2-3 double play and then got Michael Takemura on a lineout to left field to end the threat.
Hawk's RBI single in the ninth gave LCSC an insurance run and Zach Clanton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the season.
Wilhite, normally the Warriors' closer, improved to 1-1 after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in five innings. Gofinch gave up one run on two hits in three innings.
Taylor Isadore threw the first three innings for Whitworth, allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits. Kash Hieb (0-1) took the loss after giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits in his one inning of work. Michael Woodkey pitched 3.2 strong innings of scoreless relief and James King allowed the final run in his 1.1 innings.
Whitworth travels to Willamette for a key Northwest Conference series this weekend. The Pirates and Bearcats will play two games on Saturday and a single game on Sunday. Whitworth goes into the weekend only a game behind Pacific (Ore.) in the NWC standings.