SALEM, Ore. – Hugh Smith threw six dominant innings to lead visiting Whitworth to a 7-3 win over Willamette in its Northwest Conference baseball opener on Saturday and the Pirates rallied to force extra innings in the nightcap before the second game was suspended by darkness.
Whitworth improved to 6-6 overall and 1-0 in the NWC while the Bearcats fell to 7-8, 3-4. The teams will complete the suspended game on Sunday before the start of their regularly scheduled series finale.
Saturday's games were moved to Santiam Christian High School because of wet grounds at Willamette's John Lewis Field. Sunday's action will be played at Linfield College.
Smith threw six shutout innings to improve to 2-0 this season. He allowed only two hits and four walks while striking out six Bearcats, allowing Whitworth to take a 3-0 lead into the late innings. The Pirates eventually built a 6-0 lead in the eighth before holding on to the win.
Whitworth rallied for three runs in the top of the second inning against Willamette ace Matt Steindorf. Ben Wintringer got the Bucs on the board with an RBI single. Cael McKeirnan was hit by a pitch with the based loaded to force in the second run. Taylor Poffenroth's RBI single drove home Wintringer with the final run of the rally.
Neither team scored again until the 8th, when Whitworth added three more runs. Casey Isa's infield single scored Tyler Bailey from third base. The Pirates added two more runs on a fielding error at first base.
Willamette scored its three runs in the bottom of the eighth to pull within 6-3. Connor Bailey had an RBI double and Eric Del Prado added a run-scoring single in the frame.
JT Phelan homered in the top of the ninth for Whitworth's final run.
Poffenroth and Bailey led Whitworth at the plate with three hits each.
Bailey's ninth-inning RBI single in the top of the ninth tied the second game of the series 3-3 and darkness suspended the contest heading to the 10th inning.
Whitworth scored first in the second inning when Bailey came home on Isa's fielder's choice.
Willamette built a 3-1 lead with a run in the second and two more in the fourth. Del Prado and Jack Brett had solo home runs for the Bearcats.
Poffenroth's home run pulled the Pirates within 3-2 in the top of the seventh.
Ryan Kingma started on the mound for Whitworth but only threw one inning. TJ Orchard followed with 5.2 innings of relief, giving up three runs on five hits. Brady Simmelink tossed the final 2.1 innings with no-hit relief to get the Bucs into the tenth frame.