Pirates Claim Inaugural NWC Tournament Crown

Photo courtesy PLU Athletics
Photo courtesy PLU Athletics

PARKLAND, Wash. - Cory Mack pitched seven strong innings and Whitworth scored seven early runs as the third-seeded Pirates defeated top-seeded Pacific Lutheran for the second consecutive day with an 8-2 win on Sunday to claim the inaugural Northwest Conference Tournament championship at PLU Field.

Whitworth (28-13) earned the conference's automatic bid to a NCAA Division III Regional, held May 13-17. Each of the eight regional champions will advance to the NCAA Division III World Series, held in Appleton, Wis. on May 22-26.

It was a tournament to remember for the Pirates, beginning with the first nine-inning no-hitter thrown by a Whitworth pitcher in the metal bat era from senior ace Dan Scheibe against nationally-ranked Linfield and culminated with a dog-pile victory in the championship over nationally-ranked Pacific Lutheran on Sunday.

"There is not a more deserving group of young men out there," head coach Dan Ramsay said. "This championship was earned back in October. I'm really happy for our guys."

The Pirates opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over second-seeded Linfield before topping host Pacific Lutheran, 4-1, on Saturday before Sunday's championship.

JT Phelan delivered a two-RBI double to highlight a four-run first inning for the Pirates in Sunday's title game. Skyler Lookabill worked a leadoff walk before Joshua Davis reached on an error that put runners on second and third. Following a strikeout, Phelan doubled down the right-field line to plate both runners.

Whitworth added two more runs in the opening frame with a pair of two-out RBI singles. Joel Condreay scored Phelan with a two-out base hit to left-center field. Condreay then advanced to second base on a wild pitch and later scored on a single by Thomas Wakem.

The Lutes scored once in the second inning after Collin Nilson led off with a double and scored on a two-out double by Jacob Clements. Curtis Wildung brought the Lutes within 4-2 in the third inning, smacking his second home run of the season, a solo shot to straightaway center field.

Whitworth turned a two-run lead into a five-run advantage during the fourth. Nick Motsinger began the inning with a base hit, advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Casey Isa, and scored when Lookabill reached on an error. With the bases loaded later in the fourth, Jeremy Druffel ripped a two-out, two-RBI single to left field with the bases loaded, giving the Pirates a 7-2 lead.

Whitworth took advantage of a defensive miscue to plate another run in the sixth inning. Lookabill was hit by a pitch and stole second, then scored from second when Phelan's ground ball to third base was mishandled and reached shallow left field.

Mack (5-3) gave the Pirates yet another quality start, tossing seven innings with six strikeouts against two walks. He allowed two earned runs on four hits. T.J. Orchard pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

The Lutes were plagued by four errors in the game and only one of the eight Whitworth runs was earned. Whitworth extended its win streak to six games with the win.

Condreay went 2 for 4 with a walk and had one RBI and a run scored. Druffel was 2 for 5 with two RBIs while Motsinger was 2 for 4 with a walk and run scored. Lookabill finished 1 for 2 with three runs scored and reached safely in each of his five plate appearances.

Whitworth will appear in the NCAA Division III tournament for the second time in program history. The Pirates last made a regional appearance in 2012, when Whitworth won the NCAA West Regional and reached the NCAA Division III World Series.