SPOKANE, Wash. - Whitworth erased a four-run deficit to tie the game before Linfield responded with a run in the ninth inning and held off the Pirates for a 7-6 win, completing the series sweep on Saturday at Merkel Field.
Linfield (21-9, 11-7 Northwest Conference) claimed two shutout wins from the Pirates on Friday before taking the finale on Saturday. Whitworth (20-11, 11-7) and Linfield are now tied for second place in the conference standings behind Pacific Lutheran. Whitworth has six conference games remaining. The top four NWC finishers will qualify for the inaugural NWC Tournament, to be hosted by the regular-season champion.
Tied at 6-6 entering the ninth inning, Linfield put runners on first and third with two outs after singles by Finn McMichael and Eric Lawson. An attempted pickoff throw following a pitch from catcher to third base was errant and sailed down the left-field line, allowing McMichael to score the go-ahead run.
A walk and hit by pitch gave the Pirates two baserunners with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but a strikeout followed by two flyouts ended the game.
The Wildcats had scored two runs apiece in the second and third innings to open an early lead. Brady Rediger delivered a two-out, two-RBI double in the second inning to score Jo Carroll and Scott Hilpert who had each singled to begin the frame.
Ben Andrews added an RBI double in the next inning, scoring Lawson from first base with a well-executed hit-and-run. Andrews then advanced to third base on a groundout and scored on a passed ball as the Wildcats opened a 4-0 advantage.
Nick Motsinger led off the bottom of the third with his first home run of the season to narrow the deficit and snap a 20-inning scoreless streak for Whitworth but the Wildcats extended the lead with another run in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third, Rediger was caught attempting to steal second base but David Mason scored from third base on the throw from catcher to second base.
JT Phelan hit his first home run of the season to begin the bottom of the fourth but the Wildcats countered once again as Carroll hit a two-out, solo home run in the fifth inning.
Whitworth found success in the sixth inning with three runs to tie the game at 6-6. Joshua Davis began the frame by belting his conference-leading eighth home run to right field -- the third home run to begin an inning for the Pirates on the day. A single, double and walk loaded the bases and Motsinger came through with a two-out, two-RBI single later in the inning before a groundout ended the rally.
Garrett Miller (1-1) earned the victory in relief for Linfield, pitching the final 1 ⅔ innings.
Whitworth reliever T.J. Orchard (2-2) took the loss but pitched well in relief, lasting 4 ⅔ innings and allowing two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts.
Motsinger finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Jeremy Druffel (2-3, run, walk) and Phelan (2-4, two runs, RBI) also helped lead the Whitworth offense.
Lawson was 4 for 5 with a run scored to lead the Wildcats. Rediger finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
The Pirates travel to Oregon next weekend to face Pacific (Ore.) in a four-game series on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12.