Baseball closes in on playoff berth with series win

With only two weekends remaining in the conference schedule, the Pirates traveled to Forest Grove, Oregon to take on the Pacific Boxers for a three-game series. The Bucs came away with a sweep of the Saturday doubleheader before falling to the Boxers in the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon. Whitworth got a pair of incredible starts on Saturday from seniors Dan Scheibe and Spencer Ansett. Scheibe started the first game and dominated the Boxers, racking up 11 strikeouts over six innings of work.

“I got my changeup working well, which is exciting. I felt dominant out there and it was easy to set the tone when the guys put up three runs in the top of the first inning,” Scheibe said.

Those three runs were all the Pirates would need to take the first game on Saturday, as the Pirates pitching staff held Pacific to a single run. Pirate junior Jeremy Druffel doubled down the right field line in the first inning to drive in two runs. Druffel then came around to score on a single from senior Thomas Wakem.

The Pirates got another dominating performance from their starter in the second game on Saturday afternoon: Spencer Ansett.

Ansett earned his fourth win on the season after notching seven strikeouts through eight innings of dominance. He allowed only two runs in those eight innings, with only one being an earned run.

Alongside the pitching dominance from Ansett, the Pirates’ bats emerged in this game, as evidenced by a seven-run fourth inning that put the game out of reach. Five different Pirates’ batters earned RBI’s in the inning, with a pair coming on a double from senior Paul Miller, and another pair being brought around on a home run from senior Josh Davis, his ninth on the season. Davis leads the Pirates in homers and is second in the Northwest Conference.

On Sunday, the Pirates sent senior Cory Mack to the mound for the start and he turned in another solid performance. Mack struck out 12 Pacific batters in seven and two-thirds innings while allowing three runs on eight hits.

However, the Pirates offense was only able to muster a pair of runs on the day, as the Pirates dropped the third game of the series 4-2.

“Our arms have really set the tone for us,” Bucs’ coach Dan Ramsay said. “We couldn’t have asked for better performances out of Scheibe, Ansett and Mack this weekend.”

The Pirates fell just short of recording their fourth conference sweep on the season. “Obviously a bit disappointing to not get the sweep, as it would have clinched a playoff spot for us and also built some momentum heading into the final weekend,” Ansett said.

Whitworth sits in third place in the Northwest Conference with only one weekend of games left on the schedule. The Bucs trail first-place Pacific Lutheran by two games and second-place Linfield by one game.

Whitworth, with a 13-8 conference record, controls its own destiny for getting into the conference post-season tournament. If Whitworth wins one of the three games next weekend against Willamette, it will clinch a spot in the postseason tournament.

“We need to focus on one game at a time,” Ramsay said. “We will need to execute offensively and continue to pitch and play defense the way we have in order for that to become a reality.”

The Pirates and Boxers played a fourth, non-conference game on Sunday afternoon after the completion of the three-game conference set. The Boxers came away with the victory in the fourth game 6-5.


John Ekberg

Staff Writer