SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth baseball team turned the tide on visiting Pacific Lutheran on Sunday, sweeping the Lutes in a doubleheader one day after PLU took two from the Pirates. Whitworth pulled out Sunday's opener 5-4 and rolled to a 17-5 win in the series finale.
Whitworth improved to 11-8 overall and 4-7 in the NWC (only Sunday's first game was a conference counter), while the Lutes fell to 14-5 overall and 12-3 in the NWC, but remain atop the league standings.
The Pirates will return to action on Wednesday with a doubleheader at Whitman.
Game 1 – Whitworth 5, PLU 4
Matthew Nelson's RBI single to deep left field drove in Daniel Casanova with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Kelly Fitzpatrick saved the game with a perfect ninth inning, handing the Lutes only their third NWC loss of the season.
The Lutes grabbed an early lead with single runs in each of the first two innings. Connor Cantu's RBI single drove in the second run for PLU.
Casanova's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second cut the margin in half. Whitworth grabbed its first lead of the series with three runs in the fourth. Casanova's RBI single drove in the first run. Nate Lamberty then scored from third when a pickoff attempt at first base was in the dirt. The final run scored on a bases-loaded double play.
But Ben Welch tied the game for the Lutes in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer that drove in Cantu, who had singled with two outs.
PLU had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth, but Darren Crosby induced Welch to ground out with the two runners in scoring position to end the inning.
Nelson came to the plate with runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the frame. His ball just got over the left fielder, allowing Casanova to score from second. Garrett Hughes was called out at third base at the end of the play.
Fitzpatrick pitched a perfect ninth for this second save, getting the second, third and cleanup hitters in the PLU batting order - two by strikeout.
Crosby (1-0) earned the win with his one inning of relief. Matthew Young started on the mound for Whitworth, but did not factor in the decision despite going seven innings. He allowed four runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts. Hughes, Lamberty and Jacob Silva all had two hits for the Pirates.
Andrew Curran (2-1) took the loss for PLU, giving up the game-winning run on four hits in four innings of solid relief. Cantu finished 3-4 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored for the Lutes.
Game 2 – Whitworth 17, PLU 5
Nelson hit his NWC-leading seventh home run of the season and Jordan McGowan hit his second grand slam in the last two weekends to power the Pirates to the runaway victory.
After PLU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on Anthony Gosline's home run, Whitworth put up six runs in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Bird had a two-run double and Cody Simmons added a two-run single in the rally.
McGowan drilled his grand slam, his third home run of the season, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth to increase Whitworth's lead to 10-1.
PLU got a run back in the fifth, but Whitworth added two more in the bottom of the inning. Landon Packard hit a three-run homer for PLU in the top of the seventh to pull the Lutes to within 12-5. It was his third home run of the series. But Nelson answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning, his second of the weekend and seventh of the season.
The Pirates tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Nelson closed that rally out with a two-run double.
Brady Simmelink started on the mound for Whitworth and improved to 2-0 after giving up two runs on five hits in five innings. Taylor Hillmick threw the final four frames and allowed three runs on two hits. McGowan finished 3-5 with a career-high six RBIs. Nelson went 4-5 with three RBIs.
Chaz Lopez (0-2) started on the hill for PLU and took the loss after allowing five runs on four hits in 2.2 innings. Gosline finished 3-5 with two RBIs for the Lutes.