SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University claimed a pair of important victories in the hunt for a spot in the Northwest Conference baseball tournament, 5-1 and 7-4 over visiting Lewis & Clark on Saturday afternoon at Merkel Field.
The Pirates improved to 16-10 overall and 8-9 in the NWC and are now tied for fourth place in the standings. The top four teams make the conference tournament.
The Bucs and Pioneers (5-23, 4-13 NWC) will complete the series with another doubleheader on Sunday, beginning at noon. Only Sunday's first game will count toward the NWC standings.
Smith improved to 3-3 after allowing one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked only one. Crosby picked up his third save of the year with three innings of two-hit, shutout relief. He struck out two batters.
Whitworth got single runs in the second and third innings to take an early lead. Jordan McGowan's sacrifice fly scored Matt Nelson for the initial run. Joel Condreay's RBI single drove in the second run.
L&C got a run back in the fifth when Matthew Donovan doubled and scored on Nick Lockwood's single. But the Pirates answered right back in the bottom of the fifth. Garret Hughes led off with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a Condreay's fly ball. Matt Nelson walked and then stole second. Hughes scored when the throw down to second base got away.
Drake Gilliland started on the mound for L&C and fell to 0-6 after allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits in seven innings. He struck out six batters, but also walked five.
Hughes finished 3-4 at the plate for Whitworth, while Condreay, Nelson and Yamane all had a pair of hits.
Game 2 – Whitworth 7, Lewis & Clark 4
Ryan Bird's first homer of the season proved to be the game-winning RBI and Nelson drove in three runs to lead the Pirates in Saturday's nightcap.
The Pioneers scored in the first when Cooper Larson doubled and scored on Connor Eggleston's ground out in the first. But Whitworth got three in the bottom of the frame. Hughes scored the first run on a fielder's choice off of the bat of Nelson. Jacob Silva followed with an RBI single and Tyler Bailey was able to add on the third run on an error in right field after Silva's hit.
Chandler Vierra's sacrifice fly in the second trimmed the Pirates' lead to 3-2. Whitworth stretched the margin back to two runs in the third when Silva singled home Condreay, who had doubled.
The Pioneers got a pair of the fourth to tie the game 4-4. Donovan had an RBI double in the rally. Whitworth retook the lead 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth when Bird pinch hit with a home run, leading off the inning.
The Pirates got a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on Nelson's two run single.
Ryan Kingma started on the mound for Whitworth, but didn't factor into the decision after allowing four runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings. Matthew Pulliam (1-0) earned the win with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. Kelly Fitzpatrick earned his fourth save of the year by tossing 1.2 hitless innings.
Hughes, Condreay and Silva all had a pair of hits for the Bucs.
Zach Merzlak (0-1) started for L&C and took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and walked four.