by Mak Karge, Asst. SID
SALEM, Ore. – Spencer Locati doubled three times and Casey Isa drove in three runs to lead the Whitworth Pirates back from a 5-0 deficit to a 9-5 win at Willamette on Sunday, completing a Northwest Conference baseball sweep of the Bearcats.
The Pirates (10-9 overall, 7-2 NWC), who extended their winning streak to six games, moved into second place in the NWC standings and will host first place George Fox (13-6, 10-2) next weekend.
Willamette (10-7, 7-5 NWC) jumped on Whitworth starting pitcher Ryan Kingma for five runs in the bottom of the first. The first three Bearcat batters all scored. Justin Scanlon and Ethan Fischel had RBI singles in the rally and Sean Little double in a run.
The Pirates immediately responded with three runs in the top of the second second. Cody Simmons singled in the first run with a single to center. Locati scored on Isa's groundout and Jaxsen Sweum drove in the third run with a two-out single.
Whitworth took the lead in the third with three more runs, driving Willamette starter Nathan Gillman from the game. Locati's second double of the game drove in Tyler Bailey. Simmons' second RBI single of the game scored Locati and Simmons eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Bucs a 6-5 edge.
Meanwhile Kingma had settled down. He allowed only one single and one walk after the first inning before he was relieved by Mathew Pulliam with one out in the bottom of the sixth.
Isa helped the Pirates break open the game in the top of the seventh with a two-run double down the left field line. Sweum drove a deep sacrifice fly for the Pirates' final run.
Kingma improved to 4-2 with 5.1 innings of work. He allowed five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Pulliam and Connor Grytdal combined for 3.2 innings of shutout, one-hit relief.
Gilman (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after giving up six runs in 2.2 innings.
Next weekend the Pirates will play their home opener against George Fox, weather permitting. Saturday the teams will play a doubleheader at noon, followed by a single game (noon) on Sunday to close the series.