Led by standout pitching performances from seniors Dan Scheibe and Spencer Ansett, the Whitworth Pirates took two of three games from George Fox over the weekend at Merkel Field.
In the front end of the Saturday doubleheader, Scheibe went eight innings, allowing a lone run on a solo home run in the second inning to Bruins first-baseman Jacob Woehler.
“I got behind in the count and just put a fastball over the plate and he took advantage,” Scheibe said.
Scheibe recorded six strikeouts in the outing while allowing only five hits. Bucs’ senior pitcher Carson Blumenthal came into the game in the ninth inning and shut down the Bruins in order to record the save. The Pirates came away with the victory in the first game with a final score of 2-1.
The second game of the Saturday doubleheader started out with the Pirates taking an early lead thanks to a Josh Davis solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. However, the Bruins would respond in a big way, putting eight runs on the board in the third inning, followed by four more runs in the fourth inning.
One thing head coach Dan Ramsay took out of the second game, however, was the respect shown to the Pirates’ offense by the Bruins.
“Even when they were up by 11 runs, they were still trying to run some offensive plays: sacrifice bunts, steals, stuff like that. That’s respect for our offense,” Ramsay said.
Pirate senior Josh Davis drove in four of the five Whitworth runs in that second game, in which the Bucs fell to the Bruins, 16-5.
With the Sunday game the rubber-match in the three-game series, the Pirates handed the ball to senior Spencer Ansett, and Ansett responded with a gem.
Ansett threw for 8 1/3 innings on Sunday, allowing only one run on seven hits while striking out six Bruins. To make it even better for Ansett, he only needed 88 pitches to get through those 8 1/3. Of those 88 pitches, 62 were thrown for strikes.
Ansett made a habit of getting ahead in the count against the Bruins, throwing a first-pitch strike to 22 of the 32 batters he faced in the game.
“It’s always something you want to do, it keeps batters on their heels and they aren’t able to put aggressive swings on pitches deeper in the count if you’re ahead,” Ansett said.
The Sunday matchup was a pitcher’s duel, with both Ansett and the Bruins starting pitcher, senior Taylor Dunn, dealing for at least eight innings each.
For the second time in the weekend, Josh Davis smashed a first-inning home run. In fact, it looked like an identical shot to the same part of right-field as his home-run on Saturday afternoon.
“I had a 3-0 count, so I knew he was going to have to get a fastball over the plate or I wasn’t swinging. As you could tell, I got the pitch I was looking for,” Davis said.
After the Bruins scratched a run across in the third inning, the teams stayed knotted up at one until the ninth inning. Ansett got in a bit of a jam after getting the first out of the inning, giving up back-to-back singles.
Pirate senior Carson Blumenthal entered the game and induced an inning-ending double play. “I was just thinking, in that situation we needed to keep the baserunners from advancing. So, I either needed to get the strikeout, or preferably, a double-play ball. Thankfully I got the grounder and we got out of the inning,” Blumenthal said.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates loaded the bases for freshman Joel Condreay with no outs. Condreay chopped the ball towards third base, and Davis broke for home. The Bruins third-baseman, Riley McKean, charged and fired the ball home, but it went over the head of catcher Ansel Webster, allowing Davis to score the game-winning run, arms stretched high to the air as he crossed the plate.
“It’s those close games that really get your heart going,” Ramsay said.
The Pirates took the final game of the series 2-1, giving them a series win as well after taking two of three games from the Bruins. Next weekend, the Pirates travel to Parkland, Washington to take on Pacific Lutheran.