By Mak Karge, Asst. SID
The Whitworth University baseball team will be back on the road this weekend at Pacific Lutheran hoping to keep stay on its current trajectory. The Pirates took two of three against visiting George Fox last weekend, pushing the Pirates past the Bruins into a tie for first place in the Northwest Conference.
Watch the Pirates' baseball schedule for live links to this weekend's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth is 12-10 overall and 9-3 in the NWC after winning last weekend's series against the Bruins. Pirate pitching held the most explosive offensive team in the NWC to just six runs in three games. The offense was potent also as Whitworth won the opener 3-1 and the finale 12-0. George Fox won the middle game 5-4.
Austin Rice allowed just one run in the fifth inning of the opener, allowing Whitworth to secure a 3-1 victory. Cody Simmons hit a go-ahead solo home run. Connor Grydtal earned the save after striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning.
George Fox won the second game 5-4 after two lead changes. The Pirates scored three runs in the fourth highlighted by Spencer Locati's two run double down the left field line. The Pirates saw their 4-3 advantage to slip away as the Bruins put up runs in the fifth and sixth, including Chase Fetzer's game-winning home run.
Ryan Kingma was dominant in Sunday's series finale. He improved to 5-2 after allowing just two singles in eight innings. The Pirates offense put up 12 runs for the third time in NWC competition this season.
Whitworth leads the conference and is second in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage. Whitworth remains last in the conference in home runs (3) yet is second in batting average (.294). Whitworth pitchers have allowed the fewest hits (182), runs (95), earned runs (85), and walks (74) in the Northwest Conference. They also boast the second lowest team ERA (3.94).
Taylor Poffenroth is now second in conference batting average, hitting .400. Kingma is tied for the lead among NWC pitchers with five wins.
The Opponents: The Pacific Lutheran Lutes are 16-8 overall and 8-4 in the NWC after sweeping Linfield last weekend.
Jacob Bockelie leads the Lutes with a .356 batting average, seven home runs, and a 1.207 OPS. Justin Tucker has pitched 42.0 innings with a 2.57 ERA and just nine walks. Tucker has a 4-3 record.
Last season the Lutes went 25-17 (18-6 NWC). The Lutes won three of the four meetings against the Pirates last year.
The Coach: CJ Perry is in his second season as head coach of the Pirates, after serving five seasons as an assistant coach. He had two players taken in the major league draft in 2018, pitcher Hugh Smith in the sixth round by the DePtroit Tigers and shortstop Joel Condreay selected in the 31st round by the Colorado Rockies. As pitching coach in 2016, Perry's staff led all of NCAA Div. III in walks allowed per nine innings (2.07) and posted a team ERA of 3.95.