SPOKANE, Wash. - Ryan Kingma threw 7 ⅓ strong innings and Whitworth used a four-run seventh inning to pull away from visiting Pacific Lutheran en route to winning the series with a 7-3 victory on Sunday at Merkel Field.
No. 14 Whitworth (14-4, 6-3 NWC) was led by its No. 3 and No. 4 hitters offensively, as JT Phelan and Jordan McGowan combined to go 6-for-8 with three runs scored and three RBIs in Sunday's series finale. Pacific Lutheran (10-10, 6-6) took game one of Saturday's doubleheader with a 6-5 win before the Pirates responded with a 3-1 nightcap victory ahead of Sunday's game three.
Starters Kingma and Cole Johnson asserted themselves early on Sunday. Through three innings, Kingma allowed only one hit and faced the minimum while Johnson did not allow a hit until the fourth inning.
Whitworth struck first in the bottom of the fourth after Matthew Nelson worked a leadoff walk and Phelan followed with the Pirates' first base hit of the game. McGowan then sent a double to left-center field, plating Nelson and advancing Phelan to third base. But Johnson then retired three consecutive batters to strand Phelan. Pacific Lutheran centerfielder Connor Cantu robbed Nate Lamberty of a base hit to end the inning with a sliding catch on a line drive to center field, keeping two runs off the scoreboard in the process.
The Pirates added one run apiece in the fifth and sixth innings to build a 3-0 lead. Jeremy Druffel drove in Garrett Hughes with a sacrifice fly in the fifth after Hughes singled, stole second base and advanced to third base with a sacrifice bunt.
Another sacrifice fly, this time from Joel Condreay, scored Phelan during the sixth. Phelan and McGowan each singled to begin the sixth and both advanced with a wild pitch before Condreay's sacrifice fly to left field.
The lead was quickly reduced to a single run during the top of the seventh when Johnson, the pitcher, helped his own cause by belting a two-run home run over the high right-field wall. But the Pirates responded right away and stretched the lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out rally.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh, Phelan delivered an RBI single to right-center field, scoring Skyler Lookabill and sending Nelson to third base.
McGowan then smacked his second double of the game to right-center field, plating Nelson and moving Phelan to third base. Jacob Yamane followed with a two-RBI single up the middle for the 7-2 lead.
The Lutes scored a run in the top of eighth after an error and a single led to Tyler Thompson scoring Ben Welch with a fielder's choice.
Reliever JD Page took over for Kingma during the eighth and allowed only two hits in closing out the victory.
Kingma (4-0) allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with four strikeouts against one walk. Page tossed the final 1 ⅔ innings, allowing two hits but no walks.
Johnson dropped to 3-3, allowing six earned runs on seven hits over 6 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out five and walked two.
Phelan finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI while McGowan was 3-for-4 with one run scored and two RBIs. Welch (2-4, run), Drew Oord (2-4, run) and Johnson (2-4, two RBIs, run) helped lead the Lutes offensively.
The Pirates travel to western Washington to take on Puget Sound next Saturday and Sunday. The series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday, set to start at noon. It will be a quick turnaround for the Pirates following the series with the Loggers, as Whitworth will then play a pair of non-conference games at Whitman on March 22 before hosting Lewis & Clark on March 25 and 26.