by Mak Karge, Assistant SID
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth baseball team hits the road once again this weekend for another important Northwest Conference baseball series. The Pirates head to first place Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where the teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.
Watch the Pirates' baseball schedule for live links to this weekend's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth is 7-9 overall, 4-2 in the NWC after last weekend's series sweep at Pacific University. The Pirates played their most complete weekend of the season, defeating the Boxers 5-4 (12 innings), 9-1 and 12-2.
Playing as the "home" team on Pacific's field, the Bucs won the opener in the bottom of the 12th inning when Liam Fitzpatrick drilled a bases-loaded single with nobody out. Connor Grytdal earned the pitching victory with two innings of shutout relief.
Whitworth rolled to a 9-1 win in Saturday's second game thanks to the dominating pitching performance of Matthew Young. Young came within two outs of tossing a no-hitter and finished with the Pirates' first complete game of the season. Tyler Bailey dominated at the plate, going 4-4 with five RBIs.
Cody Simmons and Casey Isa drove in three runs apiece at the bottom of the order as Whitworth rolled to a 12-2 victory in the series finale. Ryan Kingma tossed seven strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Through 16 games Nicholas Nerud leads the Pirates in batting average (.382), with 15 runs and 14 RBIs. Nerud has only struck out three times in 76 at bats. Tyler Bailey is batting .339 with 14 RBIs and Whitworth's only triple of the year. Freshman Jaxsen Swenum is hitting .301 with 13 runs and one home run.
Defensively the Pirates have committed only 13 errors in 16 games with a fielding percentage of .978, which leads the NWC by ten percentage points and bests their opponents by a significant margin (.951).
Young Honored: Matthew Young was selected as the NWC Pitcher of the Week for his outstanding performance against Pacific on Saturday afternoon. It is the second time this season Young has been picked as the NWC Pitcher of the Week. He was also honored on February 11th for his season-opening win at College of Idaho.
The Opponents: Willamette is 10-4 overall and 7-2 in the NWC after winning two of three games at Linfield last weekend. The Bearcats are coming off a 31-19 season in 2018, which include a NWC tournament championship and a run to the final of the NCAA Division III regional in Spokane.
Connor Bailey leads the team in batting (.379) with a .479 OBP, 20 runs, 13 RBIs, and four home runs. Starting pitcher Matt Steindorf is 4-0 in 37.2 innings with a 1.43 ERA. Both players were first team All-NWC honorees last season.
Whitworth took two of the three games against Willamette in 2018 (7-3, 3-4, 10-4).
The Coach: CJ Perry is in his second season as head coach of the Pirates, after serving five seasons as an assistant coach. He had two players taken in the major league draft in 2018, pitcher Hugh Smith in the sixth round by the Detroit Tigers and shortstop Joel Condreay selected in the 31st round by the Colorado Rockies. As pitching coach in 2016, Perry's staff led all of NCAA Div. III in walks allowed per nine innings (2.07) and posted a team ERA of 3.95.