by Mak Karge, Assistant SID
SPOKANE, Wash. - A pair of winning streaks came to an end as the Whitworth Pirates split a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader with visiting George Fox on Saturday afternoon at Merkel Field.
The Pirates (11-10 overall, 8-3 NWC) won the opener 3-1 to end the Bruins' ten-game winning streak. George Fox (15-7, 11-3) pulled out the nightcap to silence Whitworth's seven-game skid.
The teams will complete the series at noon on Sunday.
Game 1 – Whitworth 3, George Fox 1
Austin Rice and two Pirate relievers outdueled Christopher Stone as the Pirates won the series opener.
Matt Voelzke led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run deep over the left wall, his third home run of the season.
Cody Simmons drilled his first homer in the bottom of the fifth to give Whitworth back the lead. It was only the third home run of the season for the Bucs.
Ben Wintringer was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the sixth. Tyler Bailey stepped to the plate and rocketed a Chris Stone pitch into the high right wall for a double. The deep shot from Bailey gave Wintringer enough time to get home extending the lead to 3-1.
The Pirates committed no errors.
Stone pitched the entire game for the Bruins, but still fell to 5-2. He allowed three runs (two earned) on only three hits with five strikeouts.
Rice (2-1) tossed six innings for his second straight win. He allowed only one run on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts. Matthew Pulliam followed with two shutout innings. Connor Grydtal closed the game by striking out the side to earn his first save of the season.
Game 2 – George Fox 5, Whitworth 4
Chase Fetzer's home run in the sixth inning was the difference as the Bruins edged the Pirates in the taut nightcap.
George Fox got on the board in the first on a Jerred Seamons single to right field to drive in Kyler Brudwick from third.
Whitworth responded in the bottom first when Ben Wintringer stole home after a mishandled pick off attempt at first.
George Fox scored two in the third for a 3-1 lead. Brudwick had an RBI double and Seamons added his second RBI of the game.
The Pirates used a three-run rally in the fourth to take the lead. Spencer Locati's bases-loaded double drove in the first two runs. Simmons followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
Voelzke opened the fifth inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice. Brudwick tied the game with his own sacrifice fly.
Fetzer's home run to right center field leading off the sixth proved to be the game-winning run. The Pirates got a potential tying run into scoring position in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings, but could not get that run home.
Landon Schirer improved to 5-0 on the mound for GFU after he allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings. He had five strikeouts. Isaac Olson backed him up for one inning, then Voelzke finished the game for the Bruins with two shutout innings to get his fifth save of the season.