SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitman College moved within one win of qualifying for the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament with a 5-3 victory over Whitworth in a winners' bracket game on Saturday morning at Merkel Field.
The Blues will have to wait to find out who they will play in Sunday's championship game after Saturday's late game was suspended by darkness. Whitworth leads Pacific (Ore.) 6-3 heading to the eighth inning of the final loser-out contest. That game will resume at 9:30 am before the championship begins at noon.
Pacific got to the last game of the day by defeating Pacific Lutheran 14-3 in the first elimination game on Saturday.
Game 1 – Whitman 5, Whitworth 3
The Blues (22-16) broke open a tight pitchers' duel with three runs in the eighth inning.
Whitman's Matthew Sox and Whitworth's Austin Rice dominated on the mound through seven innings, leading to a 1-1 tie at that point.
The Blues looked to tie the game or take the lead in the fifth after loading the bases with no outs on three bunt singles. But Rice struck out Tyler Lewis, Lucas Thrun and Kyle Reisman to end the threat.
It was Reisman who finally broke through against Rice with an RBI double in the seventh inning that tied the game. After Rice left the game, Whitman took advantage of Whitworth's pitching change to score three runs in the eighth. Lewis had an RBI double and Thrun followed with an RBI single in the rally.
Whitman added an insurance run in the top of the ninth that might have proved crucial when Cody Simmons drilled a two-run home run for the Pirates with only one out in the bottom of the ninth. Representing the tying run at the plate, Tyler Bailey drilled a hard shot to third that was snagged for the final out by David Johnson.
Neither Sox nor Rice factored into the decision. Sox went 6.1 innings and allowed one run on four hits and five walks. He struck out four Pirates. Rice scattered seven hits and did not allow a run in 5.2 innings. He struck out ten batters, a season-high.
Eric Ma (7-1) got the win with 2.2 innings of relief, despite giving up the home run in the ninth. Mathew Pulliam (1-1) took the loss for the Pirates after giving up four runs on six hits in two innings in relief of Rice.
Pacific (Ore.) 14, Pacific Lutheran 3
Eli Wisdom's first home run of the season was a grand slam that gave the Boxers the lead and Pacific went on to break the game open with a nine-run sixth inning.
PLU (22-16) went ahead 3-0 in the second when Jordan Haworth hit a three-run home run to center field. It was his fourth of the season.
The lead held until the bottom of the third when PLU removed starting pitcher Justin Tucker with the bases loaded and one out. Wisdom stepped to the plate against Andrew Curran and drilled the grand slam to right field.
Pacific (25-17) added a run in the fifth for a 5-3 lead. The Boxers broke it open in the sixth by scoring nine runs before a single out was recorded. Three PLU pitchers tried to stem the tide before Matt Franceschina finally retired the side. Aaron Alexander, Ryan Krout, Jordan Hara and Jacob Igawa all had run-scoring hits in the rally.
That was more than enough offense for Casey Brown (7-2), who went the distance on the mound for the Boxers. He gave up three runs on eight hits, but struck out 12 batters to reach the 100-strikeout mark for the season.
Game 3 Suspended by Darkness, Whitworth Leads Pacific 6-3
Wisdom got the Boxers on the board early with a two-run single to left-center field in the top of the first inning.
Pacific tied the game in the third when Von Ferguson singled up the middle with two outs to drive in an unearned run.
Whitworth retook the lead in the third when Liam Fitzpatrick scored on Joe Howell's sacrifice fly. The Pirates went up 5-3 in the fourth when Taylor Poffenroth doubled home Nicholas Nerud. Tyler Bailey's single to right field drove in Casey Isa in the sixth.
Whitworth starting pitcher Ryan Kingma rebounded from a rough start to throw 5.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. He will get the win if the Pirates hold on to the lead. Connor Grytdal came on to finish out the sixth and retire the Boxers in the seventh.
Pacific starter Tyler Oscarson allowed four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings. Liam Cammall went three innings of relief and allowed two runs on six hits. Gavin Bullock and Matt Selinger have also appeared on the mound for the Boxers.