Whitworth earns sweep of Willamette

The Whitworth baseball team kept its playoff hopes alive with a three-game sweep of Willamette University in Salem, Ore., last weekend.

Freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe pitched nine innings and struck out 13 batters in game one of Whitworth’s three game contest against Willamette at Merkel Field last weekend to help the Bucs grab an 8-1 victory in the front end of Saturday’s doubleheader before they secured a 7-6 win in the tenth inning of the nightcap. The action continued Sunday as the Bucs completed the three-game series and improved their record to 16-5 in Northwest Conference action, still close behind first place Pacific University.

“What really stood out this weekend was our guys’ ability to pick one another up,” head coach Dan Ramsay said. “If one guy failed the next guy behind him seemed to come through with a big hit or shut down inning out of the bullpen.”

Whitworth took the lead early when senior center fielder Kevin Valerio scored right fielder Erik Nikssarian with a squeeze bunt and freshman catcher Joshua Davis scored off of freshman shortstop Nick Motsinger’s RBI single in the second inning. In the third, senior first baseman JR Jarrell scored sophomore second baseman Gerhard Muelheims with an RBI single and freshman left fielder Tyler Pfeffer’s league-leading 11th homerun of the season boosted the Pirates to a 5-1 lead in the fifth.

“Tyler has also been playing lights out,” Ramsay said. “If he can finish what he’s started he should be a candidate for NWC Player of the Year.”

The final three runs came in the seventh when senior third baseman Landon Scott scored off Motsinger’s RBI double to center field, Nikssarian’s RBI single scored Miller and Valerio’s RBI double brought Nikssarian home.

After rolling past the Bearcats in game one, Whitworth trailed 1-0 until the sixth inning in game two. Davis hit a two-run single that gave the Pirates the lead, but Willamette answered in the seventh with another run.

“They really struggled against Scheibe in game one [but] did a good job of battling against our pitchers in game two,” Ramsay said.

Whitworth scored three runs in the eighth inning sparked by Nikssarian’s single that brought home Pfeffer, who had singled to shortstop. Jarrell and Nikssarian scored when, with the bases loaded, Scott and Valerio were hit by pitches.

The Bearcats tied it up in the bottom of the ninth to force an extra inning, but Whitworth scored two runs in the tenth when Muelheim’s RBI single brought Davis home and Pfeffer’s RBI single scored senior center fielder Ryan Beecroft.

illamette scored one run in the bottom of the 10th, but it wasn’t enough to steal the Bucs’ lead.

On Sunday, Whitworth drove in eight runs in the second inning to grab a significant early lead against the visiting Bearcats en route to a 10-6 win.

“When each guy trusts and has confidence that his teammates are going to come through, he plays with more confidence and it eases the pressure,” Ramsay said.

Willamette fought for six runs, but the Pirates secured the win with an extra two runs in the eighth inning when Davis walked, Valerio singled, and Pfeffer drove them home with a double up the left side.

Whitworth will host its final conference games with a three-game series against Whitman on April 28 and 29. The Pirates currently sit one game back of conference-leader Pacific.  Each team has three games remaining; however, the Boxers hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Bucs.

 

Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

File Photo by Chrissy Roach

 

Contact Corina Gebbers at cgebbers15@my.whitworth.edu.

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