by Mak Karge, Asst. SID
SALEM, OR. – Whitworth University made another loud statement in the Northwest Conference on Saturday. The Pirates swept a baseball doubleheader against Willamette with a pair of convincing wins, 12-4 and 3-1 at John Lewis Field. The series concludes with a third game on Sunday at noon.
Whitworth improved to 9-9 overall and 6-2 in the NWC with its fifth straight victory. The Bearcats, defending NWC tournament champions, fell to 10-6, 7-4.
Liam Fitzpatrick went 6-8 to lead the Pirates at the plate.
Game 1 – Whitworth 12, Willamette 4
The Pirates got to Bearcat pitching ace Matt Steindorf early and ended up handing the All-NWC hurler his first loss of the season to claim the series opener.
Whitworth got started with two runs in the first. Taylor Poffenroth drove in the first run with an RBI single and Fitzpatrick made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Willamette scored in the third on a bases-loaded walk to pull within 2-1.
Cody Simmons singled down the right field line in the top of the fourth to score two runners, increasing the lead to 4-1.
The Pirates broke open the game with three more runs in the fifth. Poffenroth, Tyler Bailey and Fitzpatrick all had RBI doubles in the rally. Ben Wintringer's RBI single in the sixth made it 8-1 and a Casey Isa sacrifice fly in the seventh increased the Bucs' lead to 9-1.
Kyle Paguio scored for Willamette in the seventh and added an RBI single in the eighth to pull the hosts within 10-4.
Whitworth iced the game with two more runs in the top of the ninth. Jaxsen Sweum doubled in a run and Wintringer added another RBI single.
Austin Rice (1-1) earned his first pitching win of the season for Whitworth with five strikeouts in 6.2 innings pitched. He scattered seven hits and walked a pair, but allowed only two runs to outdual the Bearcats' ace. Connor Grytdal threw two scoreless innings to wrap up the game for the Pirates.
Steindorf fell to 5-1 after allowing eight runs (six earned) on 12 hits in 5.2 innings. Jason Snare and Dawson Enright finished up in relief and each allowed a pair of runs.
Game 2 – Whitworth 3, Willamette 1
Matthew Young led the Pirates to a doubleheader sweep with a second straight strong outing on the mound.
Young (4-2), the current NWC Pitcher of the Week, allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. Brett Thomas threw two innings of hitless relief for his second save of the season.
Whitworth took a 1-0 lead in the first when Nicholas Nerud scored off Taylor Poffenroth's single up the middle. Poffenroth made it 2-0 in the third inning when he scored on Liam Fitzpatrick's single. Poffenroth added another RBI single in the fifth to drive in Wintringer with an unearned run, giving Whitworth a 3-0 lead.
Kyle Paguio's sacrifice fly to center field in the sixth pulled Willamette within 3-1. But the Bearcats would not threaten again thanks to Young and Thomas.
Brandon Nelson took the loss for Willamette and fell to 1-4.