SPOKANE, Wash. - Top-seeded Whitworth fell behind early and dropped its Saturday opener against second-seeded Pacific Lutheran at the NWC Tournament before bouncing back and advancing to the championship round with a win over fourth-seeded Pacific. The Lutes topped Whitworth, 7-3, before the Pirates beat Pacific for the second time in as many days with a final score of 6-5.
Whitworth (27-9) is now 2-1 in the tournament and will need to top Pacific Lutheran (24-16) twice on Sunday to claim the NWC Tournament title. The Lutes enter the championship round 2-0 in the double-elimination tournament. Pacific (24-16) earned a 17-9 come-from-behind win over third-seeded George Fox in the first game played on Saturday to eliminate the Bruins before falling to Whitworth in the third game of the day.
Sunday's championship will begin at noon. If necessary, the second game is scheduled for 3 p.m. The winner of the tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Pacific Lutheran 7, Whitworth 3
Pacific Lutheran starter Cole Johnson held the Pirates to three runs over 7 ⅓ innings pitched and went 4-for-5 at the plate as the Lutes grabbed a 5-0 lead after four innings en route to the 7-3 win.
Both teams threatened to score in the first inning with two hits apiece, but defensive plays kept the game scoreless. With runners on first and second in the top of the first and two outs, Joel Condreay made a diving catch on a line drive hit to his left to end the inning. In the bottom of the first, Jeremy Druffel followed Daniel Casanova's leadoff double with a base hit to right-center field but a 9-3-2 relay to the plate was in time to tag out Casanova sliding into home plate.
The Lutes broke through in the second inning with four hits to total three runs. Sean Rehon put the Lutes on the board with an RBI single -- the third hit of the inning in as many batters. He later scored along with Connor Cantu on a two-RBI single by Ben Welch.
The Lutes added one run apiece in the third and fourth innings, with Cantu singling home Johnson in the third and Drew Oord belting a solo home run in the fourth.
The lead was extended to 7-0 with two more runs in the sixth inning. Welch led off with a single and then scored from first base on a double to left-center field from Tyler Thompson. A two-out double down the left-field line by Landon Packard brought Thompson home later in the frame.
Whitworth responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Walks to Druffel and Matthew Nelson put two on base and both advanced with a wild pitch. Consecutive RBI singles from JT Phelan and Condreay brought home Druffel and Nelson before a double play prevented further damage.
Whitworth came within 7-3 in the seventh with a two-out rally. Consecutive two-out singles by Casanova and Druffel were followed with a third consecutive hit in the inning by Jordan McGowan to plate Casanova. But Whitworth could do no further damage against the Lutes.
Johnson improved to 5-4, striking out two and walking five. He was relieved by Garrett Brown, who held Whitworth to one hit over the final 1 ⅔ innings with two strikeouts.
Druffel finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and a walk. Phelan went 3-for-4 with one RBI.
The Lutes pounded out 18 hits, led by Johnson's four hits. Cantu went 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI to help lead the balanced offense.
Whitworth 6, Pacific 5
Whitworth jumped to a 6-0 lead after four innings and T.J. Orchard took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Pacific threatened with a rally but came up just short in an elimination game.
Druffel doubled home Casanova to give Whitworth a lead in the first inning and Phelan added a two-out single to score Druffel for a 2-0 Whitworth advantage after one inning.
Casanova was again involved in the offensive production as Whitworth added two more runs in the second inning, providing a two-RBI single to left-center field following singles by Tyler Bailey and Garrett Hughes.
Whitworth pushed the lead to six runs in the bottom of the fourth with two hits and a walk. A leadoff single by Hughes and a walk to Druffel put a pair of runners on base. McGowan brought home Hughes with a single before Nelson provided a sacrifice fly to plate Druffel.
Orchard set down the first 11 batters he faced, keeping a pitching rhythm despite an 18-minute rain delay during the top of the third inning. A walk to Walker Olis in the fourth inning was his only blemish until the Boxers' offense found success in the sixth.
Consecutive one-out singles from Kane Ulrich and Eli Wisdom gave Pacific its first two hits and Ben Roquet followed a three-run home run for the Boxers' third consecutive hit.
Olis added a two-RBI single in the eighth to bring Pacific within 6-5 as the Boxers totaled three hits in the inning. Pacific brought the go-ahead run to the plate after a two-out walk to Charlie Dietrich in the ninth inning but a fielder's choice concluded the game.
Orchard (7-1) struck out a career-high 10 and walked two, allowing four earned runs on five hits over seven innings. He was relieved by Arory Milyard for ⅓ of an inning before Kelly Fitzpatrick pitched the final 1 ⅔ innings to pick up his third save.
Pacific starter Andrew Carlin (0-1) went 2 ⅓ innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits with one strikeout and no walks. Nathan Suyematsu pitched the final 5 ⅔ innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Casanova, McGowan, Phelan, Bailey and Hughes each had two hits apiece to lead Whitworth. Wisdom and Roquet each had two hits for the Boxers.