SPOKANE, Wash. - The Whitworth baseball team clinched a berth to the inaugural postseason NWC Tournament with a series-opening win against visiting Willamette before completing a sweep of the doubleheader with a walk-off victory in the nightcap on Saturday at Merkel Field. The Pirates won the opener, 5-3, and rallied for an 8-7 win in the second game.
Whitworth (24-13, 15-8 NWC) remains in third place behind Pacific Lutheran (17-6 NWC) and Linfield (16-7 NWC) but assured itself of a spot in the four-team conference tournament next weekend. With the victories, Puget Sound (13-11 NWC), George Fox (12-11 NWC) and Willamette (10-13 NWC) can no longer catch the Pirates in the conference standings.
Whitworth and Willamette conclude the series with a single game on Sunday at noon. Prior to the beginning of the game, the Pirates will honor their senior class of 10 players.
Game 1: Whitworth 5, Willamette 3
Dan Scheibe recorded his conference-leading eighth win of the season and Whitworth scored twice in the seventh inning to open a three-run advantage before holding off the Bearcats in the final frame.
Scheibe (8-2) pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits. He struck out nine batters and walked only two.
The Bearcats scored once in the fourth inning to cut the deficit in half with an RBI single by Jordan Ramp, scoring Gordie Clary. Clary had led off the frame with a double.
Nick Motsinger hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot to right field, in the bottom of the fourth inning to open a 3-1 advantage but Willamette responded once again the next inning.
Rolenn Himuro and Hunter Gallant each singled to open the inning and a two-out single by Austin Hagarty scored Himuro to bring the Bearcats within 3-2.
Whitworth added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh inning, the first by way of Matthew Nelson's fifth home run of the season. Nelson belted a one-out solo homer to center field.
Jeremy Druffel followed Nelson with a double and later scored via an RBI single from Phelan.
The Bearcats used a two-out rally to score once against Whitworth closer Carson Blumenthal in the ninth inning. Gallant doubled with two outs and Tiras Koon followed with a run-scoring single before a pop out ended the game and gave Blumenthal his seventh save of the year.
Wakem finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs while Nelson (2-3, run, RBI), Condreay (2-4, run) and Phelan (2-4, run, RBI) each had a multi-hit game as well.
Game 2: Whitworth 8, Willamette 7
The Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the win, culminated by a walk-off walk with the bases loaded to Motsinger.
Whitworth faced a 7-5 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth inning but back-to-back singles by Joshua Davis and Nelson began the rally and put runners on first and second base.
During the next at-bat after Nelson's hit, Willamette catcher Jacob Parra attempted a snap-throw pickoff to second base following a pitch and caught Davis too far off second base. But Davis broke for third base on the throw from Parra and arrived safely as the throw from second to third got past the third baseman and allowed Brett Moser, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Nelson, to advance from first base to second base.
Pinch hitter Sklyer Lookabill then delivered a two-run, game-tying base hit to center field and advanced to second base on the throw from center field to home plate. Paul Miller moved Lookabill to third base with a sacrifice bunt before Wakem and Dalton Carter were intentionally walked to load the bases. Willamette pitcher Tyler Olson struck out Garrett Hughes to give the Bearcats two outs before Motsinger walked on a full-count pitch to bring home Lookabill for the winning run.
A pair of RBI singles from Druffel and Nelson had given Whitworth a 2-0 advantage in the first inning but Willamette produced a three-run third inning to take the lead. Koon's NWC-leading 11th home run of the year, a two-run shot to right field, highlighted the frame for the Bearcats.
The Pirates tied the game at 3-3 during the third inning following singles from Druffel and Davis to place runners on first and third. Davis stole second and Druffel scored from third on the throw from catcher to second base.
Willamette took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning after Nate Bush opened the inning with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Himuro.
Whitworth collected five hits and scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to retake the lead in the back-and-forth game. Motsinger tripled to lead off the inning and the Pirates tied the game with an RBI single from Druffel. Phelan added an RBI single later in the inning to score Davis, who had singled and advanced into scoring position on a single from Nelson.
The Bearcats produced four doubles with two outs in the seventh inning to plate three runs for a 7-5 lead.
Druffel was 3 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBIs while Davis was 3 for 5 with two runs scored and Nelson finished 3 for 5 with one RBI to lead the offense.