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

Men's tennis finishes weekend on a Willamette win

The men’s tennis team split their two matches this weekend at home against Pacific University and Willamette University, ultimately knocking the Bucs out of playoff contention in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth lost 6-3 Saturday in a hard-fought match against Pacific University inside the Scotford Tennis Center.

“Pacific played just a little bit better than us today,” Coach Mike Shanks said. “They have some real quality players, but we are making progress, as we lost 8-1 and did not win any of our doubles matches when we played them away.”

Whitworth started off the day winning two out of their three doubles matches, but had a disappointing singles performance, winning only one of six matches. Junior Drew Brigham and sophomore Shane Sandlin won their No. 1 doubles match 8-6, while sophomore Caleb Hughes and junior Drew Adams won their No. 3 doubles match in a 9-8 tiebreaker.

Hughes also started at the No. 6 spot in singles and pulled off a win in three sets after losing the first one.

“I feel like I am playing adaptable tennis, as I am able to play different opponents in different ways, and figure out how to beat them,” Hughes said. “Today it was important for us to keep the positive energy going, and continue to focus on one point at a time.”

Although Hughes was the only Buc to win in singles, the matches were much closer than the final team score suggested. Adams started at the number four spot and lost a heartbreaker in three sets, while Brigham started at the number one spot and lost a hard fought match to Giancarlo Battalgia, a senior who is undefeated this year, and who Shanks said, “will probably win the Northwest Conference player of the year.”

On Sunday, Whitworth blew out Willamette 8-1 at the Scotford Tennis Center. The Bucs started off the day by sweeping the Bearcats 3-0 in doubles, and then won 5-1 in singles, with half of the matches played outside on a windy day.

“In doubles, we were really aggressive. We saw our opponents weaknesses and took advantage of them,” junior Blake Miller said. “In singles it was different playing outside with the wind, but I definitely got my rhythm more in the second set.”

Miller started off the day with a dominant performance in doubles partnered with Matt Goebel, winning 8-1. In singles, Miller dropped the first set, but came back to win 6-3 in the second set, and finished the match off with a 10-2 win in the tiebreaker.

After losing Saturday, Brigham came back with a dominant win in straight sets on Sunday, while Hughes continued his winning run by winning in straight sets without dropping a game in the process. Sophomore Jeffrey Vulis and freshman Ryan Adams got their first starts of the season in singles, and both had assertive performances winning in straight sets.

Vulis is a transfer student from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, who was battling a back injury in the first half of the season.

“The support of my teammates and the fans definitely helped me during the match,” Vulis said. “I did well with being patiently aggressive, waiting for my proper moment to come in and attack.”

The Bucs play again at home on Wednesday, April 15 against Lewis and Clark State.

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Men's basketball shares no love for NWC teams

It may have been Valentine’s Day weekend, but the Pirates showed no love for Northwest Conference foes George Fox and Pacific on the last home games of the regular season. After defeating George Fox handily 90-76, the Bucs blew out the Pacific University Boxers on Saturday, 89-50, in what would be their second-largest margin of victory this season.

The George Fox Bruins boasted a No. 2 ranked scoring average in the NWC coming into the matchup at 76 points per game; however, they would be without the NWC leading scorer Jonny Howard (17.3 ppg) who was excused by the coaching staff for the game. 

From the first Whitworth possession, the Bruins fell into a full-court press. The Pirates were not outwardly phased by the high-intensity defense early on, and junior forward George Valle set the offensive tone early with a 3-pointer. 

“I think there were a couple times tonight when we got a little flustered with their full-court pressure,” Valle said. “We started throwing the ball all over the court and turning it over, but I think it takes someone to make a play at that point and step up and calm the tide and I was able to do that a couple times tonight.”

In many ways, the first half proved to be a showcase of patented Whitworth-style basketball. As such, aggressive play on both sides of the ball as well as good ball movement on offense led to an early double-digit lead for the Bucs. A late first half run with 1:30 remaining by George Fox would prove frustrating for head coach Matt Logie as the Pirate lead was cut to 11 when the first half came to an end. Logie was even called for a technical foul for hitting the front of the scorer’s table as the team made their way into the locker room. 

“We were a little sloppy with our execution, a little sloppy with the basketball so we just talked about the things we do against the press and how to be better at it,” Logie said. “Guys just need to learn and grow from it. Some of these guys haven’t played against pressure like that very frequently and within our system so we’re growing and sometimes that comes with growing pains.”

The tight play characterizing the last few minutes of the first half continued through the first five minutes of the second. Logie began showcasing his frustration with referees more openly after foul calls and before time

outs. It took time for the Pirates to return to an offensive rhythm like the one they had during most of the first half. However, a 3-point-play opportunity from senior forward Adam Wilkes with 11:14 to go became the spark that would put the Bruins away for good. 

With 1:17 left to play and a 20-point Whitworth lead, the last of the starters were subbed out en route to a 90-76 Pirate victory. 

The Bucs finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor with Valle adding 18 points and five rebounds to go along with sophomore forward Christian Jurlina’s 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Sophomore guard Kenny Love was noticeably quiet with his performance on Friday. In foul trouble early on, Love accounted for six points on 1-5 shooting from the field. 

Senior night on Valentine’s Day against Pacific began emotionally for Wilkes and senior forward Taylor Farnsworth as they were recognized by the athletic department for their four-year participation on the basketball team. 

“I can’t describe it, man,” Wilkes said. “I mean, I’ve been here for four years and to see four years of work culminate in not only a good game for me personally but, more importantly, a really, really solid team win against a good opponent. It means everything.”

While Valle started things off offensively with five of Whitworth’s first nine points as part of his 11 first-half points, Wilkes provided a significant offensive spark with eight points in the first half off the bench. 

Pacific’s star players in Mitch Wettig and Riley Grandinetti were held to just nine combined points in the first half as the Pirate defense stifled the Boxer offense under the basket and beyond the arc. In the paint, the Boxers were stymied with just 10 points and zero second-chance points as part of just seven field goals made on 26 attempts. 

The Pirates on the other hand were converting from every spot on the floor by shooting 50 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from beyond the arc and a perfect 100 percent from the stripe. Unlike the night before, Whitworth held their significant lead at the half, 41-23.

Despite the already one-sided game through one half of play, the Pirates continued their offensive and defensive onslaught and increased the lead to 66-32 with just over nine minutes to play. The lead increased even more to 39 points with six minutes to play before major substitutions were made. 

The 89-50 victory for the Pirates would prove their largest margin of victory this season since their 103-49 victory over D’Youville on Nov. 15.

“Tonight was probably our best full effort on both sides of the ball. We were able to put a whole game together so that gives us a lot of confidence moving forward that we’ve seen what that looks like on both sides,” Logie said. “Hopefully we can continue to execute like that moving forward.”

The seniors, Wilkes and Farnsworth, combined for 18 points in their last regular season home game of their college careers. Jurlina added 16 and Valle came away with 18 points for the Pirates as well. 

With these two wins, the Bucs close in on becoming the first NWC school since the 1965-70 Linfield Wildcats to win six NWC championships in a row. The two home wins also add to the over 150 home victories the Pirates have accumulated since the 2001-02 season. 

The men’s regular season will conclude with games on Friday and Saturday at Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound with the NWC Tournament to follow the week after.

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor

Volleyball dominates in weekend matchup

Following their narrow win over Whitman last Wednesday, the Pirates dominated Pacific University volleyball last Saturday night. Whitworth’s strong offense and accurate blocking overtook the Pacific Boxers 3-0, bringing the women’s Northwest Conference record this season to 2-2. Hitting a much-improved percentage of .393 in the entire match, Whitworth’s offense took the lead in all three matches. Junior Nicole Leonard led the team with 13 kills, while freshman Cassandra Mendoza followed closely behind with 12 kills and the highest hitting percentage of the night—.706. These kills along with junior Shawna Korshavn’s seven kills and junior setter Maddye Dinsmore’s 37 assists delivered the solid offense that the Pirates needed to shut down Pacific. Pacific’s defense and .141 hitting average could not keep the score close.

“We were really focused on playing our game instead of worrying about what [Pacific University] was going to throw at us,” sophomore Haley Vick said.

The Pirate’s  offensive focus at practice this week paid off, pulling the team together for the win, Vick said.

Whitworth’s early six-point lead in the first set started off the team’s upward momentum. Although several attack errors on the Pirate side allowed the Boxers to tie the score 12-12, Mendoza, sophomore Brenna Bruil, and Leonard’s combined nine kills in the second half of the game regained the Pirate lead. Pacific’s game point attack error finished the set 25-19.

“We came in with the focus tonight that we wanted to find our rhythm offensively. We’re a team that when we play well offensively, everything else kind of comes together,” Head Coach Kati Bodecker said.

Pacific’s well-placed tips in the beginning of the second set initially challenged Whitworth’s defense, as the teams stayed within one point of each other for five points. Dinsmore, however, moved the Pirates ahead with a second-touch tip over Pacific’s blockers. Vick and Leonard then targeted Pacific’s left back defense, making two kills.

Lack of communication between Pacific’s players became obvious when they dropped a ball and made two net errors. Whitworth’s aggressive blocking as well as Mendoza’s and Korshavn’s hitting efforts left Pacific’s defense scrambling, and the Pirates proceeded to win 25-11.

“Our main key tonight was to play free and compete. I think we did that. When you all commit to the same thing and play selflessly, then it gets really easy to get excited about everyone’s awesome kills or their awesome digs,” Dinsmore said.

Dinsmore again tipped several balls over the Boxers’ blockers in the third game. This, along with two kills from Mendoza, pushed the Pirates three points ahead of the Boxers. The Boxers’ offense, although inconsistent at first when they hit several balls out, tied up the score 12-12, challenging the Pirate defense with kills over blockers’ reach. Mendoza’s solid kills eventually overcame Pacific’s blockers, and she finished the Pirate sweep with a kill to the left back.

The women will challenge the Willamette Bearcats in Salem, Ore. on Friday. They hope to approach the game with hard work in practice this week so they can beat Willamette, Bodecker said.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer

Men's soccer keeps undefeated streak alive on road

Senior Micheal Ramos’ four assists and three unassisted goals to tie two school records highlighted the Pirates’ 7-1 victory against the Bruins last Saturday, while the Pirates finished the weekend with a 4-1 win against the Boxers. Traveling on the road, scoring three goals early on in the game against George Fox gave Whitworth an edge.

The Pirates played how they wanted to play by reaching out to their forwards and distributing the ball, junior David Starkovich said.

The Bucs scored in the 14th minute of the game with an unassisted goal by Ramos, setting the game’s tone. Less than 30 seconds later, another cross ball assisted by Ramos to junior Karl Muelheims was scored.

“We were going at their defense,” Muelheims said. “Ramos was on the left side of the field and he played the ball to the back post, and I kicked it with my right foot.”

The Pirates’ third goal came in the 28th minute off of Ramos’ penalty kick. The fourth goal occurred in the 57th minute when Ramos assisted sophomore Rylan Berriman.

“[Ramos]’s distribution was really good. He moved the field quite a bit [and] switched the balls a lot,” Muelheims said. “He sets up other players to succeed.”

The early scores caused the Pirates to lose focus, which allowed the Bruins to score in the 75th minute, Starkovich said.

“Everybody needed to stay focused,” Muelheims said. “We dropped off because we were up 3 or 4 and we were satisfied about how the game was going rather than think about what to take more from this team.”

The other three goals came within a 10-minute period with two goals assisted by Ramos and scored by Berriman and junior Sam Engle. The final goal came from Ramos on a one-on-one with the Bruins’ goalie.

Ramos ended up tying the school record for points in a game with 10, while tying the school record for assists in a game with four.

Hannah Walker | Graphic Artist

The game on Sunday proved to be just as lopsided.

Whitworth took the lead on the 23rd minute when Muelheims had an unassisted goal off a crossbar rebound after a shot by Ramos. However, 14 minutes later, junior Samual Jarrett took the ball himself from 10 yards out from the net and kicked it to the lower left corner, putting the Pirates up two.

“We decided to limit their ability to play through the back by high pressing their defense,” Muelheims said. “This forced them to kick it long, where Sam Engle had a height advantage in the midfield. All we had to do was win the second ball and attack their defense.”

Pacific scored their only goal in the 55th minute in the second half. However, to secure the lead, Muelheims gave another point to Whitworth with less than 10 minutes off an assist by Berriman.

Bringing the game to a close, Ramos scored the Pirates’ fourth and last goal by freshman Eric Espinoza’s assist.

“[Ramos] grows every time he’s on the field and brings everybody into the game,” Head Coach Morgan Cathey said. “He showed a lot more desire to put the ball in the back and that purpose was noticeable this weekend.”

The Pirates improved to 8-0-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the NWC.

Whitworth begins a stretch of home games this weekend by hosting Pacific Lutheran on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

 

Jessica Razanadrakoto

Staff Writer