SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University batted around in both the third and fourth innings to rally from an early 5-0 deficit and defeat visiting Puget Sound 15-8 in the finale of a Northwest Conference baseball series on Sunday at Merkel Field.
The Pirates (17-11 overall, 14-4 NWC) have won 13 of their last 15 games and continue to hold onto first place in the league standings with two weekends to play. The Bucs will look to extend their lead in the NWC standings during next weekend's series at Lewis & Clark College.
The Loggers (9-21, 8-10) took a 5-0 lead in the top of the third with a three run rally that drove Pirate starting pitcher Ryan Kingma from the game. Nolan Wiler capped the rally with a two-run single.
Whitworth turned the tide with seven runs in the bottom of the third. Jaxsen Sweum had a two run double, Cody Simmons followed with an RBI single and Joe Howell added an RBI double to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. Casey Isa drove in the final run of the inning.
After UPS got within 7-6 in the top of the fourth, Whitworth sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom half and tacked on six more runs. Tyler Bailey led off the inning with his first home run of the season. Simmons added another RBI single in the rally and Nicholas Nerud drove in a pair of runs as the Bucs took advantage of two Logger errors. Whitworth led 13-6 at the end of the fourth inning.
Puget Sound never got closer than six runs the rest of the way. AJ Marioka hit his first home run of the season in the top of the ninth for the Loggers.
Nerud, Sweum, Liam Fitzpatrick and Simmons all drove in a pair of runs apiece. Seven different Pirates scored two runs each. Nerud, Bailey, Ben Wintringer, Sweum and Simmons all had a pair of hits in the game.
Connor Grydtal (2-2) earned the win with 4.1 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on six hits. Jake Briones threw the final two frames for Whitworth.
Michael Warnick (1-4) started for Puget Sound and took the loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on six hits in 2.1 innings. Three Loggers combined to throw the final 5.2 innings.