McMINNVILLE, Ore. – One night after Whitworth picked up its first-ever NCAA Division III win, the Pirates suffered their first national tournament loss. Jules Cronk hit a grand slam and added an RBI double to lead 15th-ranked Trinity (Texas) to an 8-3 win over Whitworth in the McMinnville Regional on Thursday night at Linfield College.
The #2-seeded Tigers improved to 36-10 with their second win in the regional. Following La Verne's 8-5 win over top-seeded Concordia (Texas) earlier in the day, Trinity is the only unbeaten team left in the six-team field.
The Pirates (27-14-1) will play a loser-out game against Concordia on Friday at noon. The winner of that game will take on Trinity Friday night at 7:00 pm.
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Whitworth got on the board in the first inning when Landon Scott singled home Nick Motsinger. But Trinity went in front in the bottom of the second and the Tigers never trailed again. Christian Mustain and Cronk opened the frame with back to back doubles down the left field line.
Cronk's big blow came in the bottom of the third. Trinity loaded the bases against Whitworth starting pitcher Carson Blumenthal thanks in part to a pair of walks. Cronk then drove a ball over the left field wall to give the Tigers a 6-1 lead.
Erik Nikssarian singled home Tyler Pfeffer to get a run back for the Pirates in the fourth inning. However Pat Hirschberg drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to extend the advantage to 8-2.
Pfeffer hit a solo home run off of the scoreboard in right field in the top of the eighth for Whitworth, his 12th homer of the season.
Tanner Barron went eight innings for Trinity to improve to 4-1 this season. He struck out 12 Pirates and allowed three earned runs on eight hits and four walks. Michael Bentz pitched the ninth for the Tigers.
Blumenthal went 4.0 innings for the Pirates, allowing six runs on six hits while falling to 5-5 on the season. Taylor Isadore pitched the final four innings and allowed two runs on two hits.