by Brandon Loiler, Sports Information Assistant
McMINNVILLE, Ore. - JT Phelan hit a solo home run in the 11th inning to give Whitworth a 4-3 win over #1 seed and tournament host Linfield in round one of the 2017 Northwest Conference Baseball Tournament.
The Pirates (23-13, 12-12 NWC) will return to action against the winner of the 5 p.m. game between Willamette, who took down Pacific Lutheran 6-5. Whitworth's game against the Bearcats will be April 22 at 3 p.m.
With runners on first and second, Garrett Hughes loaded the bases for Nicholas Nerud. Nerud brought home Joel Condreay with a sac fly to center field, giving the Pirates a 1-0 advantage halfway through the fifth.
The Wildcats started the sixth inning with consecutive doubles to tie the game up at 1-1. With runners on the corners, Jared Evans gave the home team a 2-1 lead with a single, scoring teammate Ben Andrews.
After starting off the eighth inning with back-to-back walks and a balk to put the runners in scoring position, Whitworth's Tyler Bailey hit an RBI ground out to second base, tying the game up at 2-2. On the next at bat, J.T. Phelan hit an RBI single to put the Pirates back on top.
In the bottom of the ninth, the home team rallied with one down with an RBI single to center field. The Pirates put together a double-play on a line drive to third base to end the inning.
Both teams retired the first three opposing betters in the 10th inning, but in the 11th, Phelan sent a solo home run out of left field for a 4-3 Pirate lead. T.J. Orchard and the Whitworth defense sat down the first two batters on a ground out and popout before walking Linfield's Joey Cassano. Phelan ended the game and sealed the win for the Pirates with a routine pop fly to right field.
Phelan went 2-5 with two RBIs and a run, including his home run in the 11th to lead the Whitworth offense. Nerud (0-3) and Bailey (0-5) added one RBI apiece. For the 'Cats, Ben Andrews went 3-4 with an RBI, one run and walk.
T.J. Orchard (2-0) picked up his second win of the season, coming in in the 10th inning and recording one strike out and giving up no hits. Matt Young pitched the first five innings and gave up five hits and a walk against 23 at bats. Dylan Peters (2-2) gets the loss for Linfield after giving up the go ahead home run in the top of the 11th.