A four-run first inning got Whitworth off to a fast start and the Pirates cruised to an 11-4 Northwest Conference baseball win over visiting Willamette on Sunday at Merkel Field to close out the regular season and claim a second-place tie with Linfield.
A pair of two-run doubles, by Jeremy Druffel and Carson Blumenthal, aided by two Willamette errors, got the Pirates (25-13, 13-8 NWC) off on the right foot to complete their third series sweep of the season. They had defeated the Bearcats twice Saturday.
Willamette (20-16, 10-4) threatened to get back in the game in the top of the fourth when Tiras Koon belted his 12th homer, and second in two days, the two-run shot cutting the Pirates’ lead to 5-2.
But Whitworth put the game out of reach with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Matthew Nelson followed Joshua Davis’ run-scoring single with his second homer in two days, a two-run shot.
Thomas Wakem had his fourth homer of the year for the Pirates.
Although Whitworth and Linfield had identical 16-8 league records, the Wildcats will be the second seed in the first NWC tournament that begins Friday at top-seeded Pacific Lutheran, but they will meet in the first round. PLU (26-9, 18-6) and fourth-place Puget Sound (18-19, 13-11) play the other first-round game.
• J.J. Hancock had three hits and drove in three runs to lead Washington State to an 8-5 nonconference victory over visiting San Jose State at Bailey-Brayton Field as the Cougars (21-18) took three of four games from the Spartans in a 7-2 homestand.
Although WSU jumped on top with a three-run first, two on Hancock’s two-out single, the Spartans made things interesting.
Wes Hatten, Shane Matheny and Ben Roberts added two hits each to WSU’s 13-hit attack and Sam Triece picked up the win in relief, pitching five scorless innings, scattering two hits while striking out four.
• Portland scored the first and last runs, and in the process wiped out a three-run Gonzaga lead after 6 1/2 innings to claim a 6-5 WCC win at Joe Etzel Field in Portland.
Mitchell Gunsolus’s two-run double in the top of the fifth gave Gonzaga (19-19, 9-9 WCC) its first lead of the game and the Zags added two more in the top of the seventh for a 5-2 margin, but it wouldn’t hold up against the Pilots (9-33, 4-14). Portland scored two in the bottom of the inning to chase GU starter Brandon Bailey and won it in the eighth on a two-run double by Turner Gill. Cody Lenahan hit a solo homer for Portland.
• Zach Cerbo’s pinch-hit, RBI double in the top of the 10th inning spoiled a Washington comeback and earned visiting No. 7 Arizona State a 6-5 Pac-12 in Seattle.
UW (21-16, 7-1) had delighted a season-high crowd of 1,286 at Husky Ballpark with home runs in the eighth and ninth innings by Josh Cushing and Autin Rei, respectively, to force extra innings, but weren’t able to deprive the Sun Devils (25-11, 13-5) a sixth straight series victory.
Tessa Matthews’ double to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning drove in Peyton McMahon with the run that gave Whitworth an 11-3, 6-inning win over Lewis & Clark in the second game at Diana Marks Field and wrapped up the first Northwest Conference championship for the Pirates.
Whitworth added softball as a varsity sport in 1998.
Chelsey Hayes went 5 for 8 and drove in five runs on the day for Whitworth. Hayes and McMahon each had three RBIs in the game.
After getting handcuffed on five hits by LC’s Hallie Knife in a 7-2 loss in the opener and falling behind 3-0 in the second game, Whitworth ran off 11 straight runs to end the game on the eight-run rule.
Shannon Wessel’s two-run triple highlighted a five-run fourth that broke open the second game.
• Community Colleges of Spokane won twice and North Idaho College split two games each in the NWAC Crossover in Yakima.
Kylee Andreason went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs to lead CCS past Centralia 10-6 in its first game.
Berkley Fisher (Shadle Park) drove in the winning run in the fourth with a single in a 3-2 win over Mt. Hood in the second. Lindsie Scholwinski slammed the door on Mt. Hood’s two-run rally in the sixth with her sixth and seventh strikeouts and an inning-ending groundout as CCS went 4-0 in the crossover.
Miranda Powless pitched a six-hit, 4-0 shutout over Clark, striking out eight, and got a two-run triple from Hayle Fields in NIC’s first game, but the Cardinals lost their second game 6-5 to Clackamas.
Idaho had three of the top seven scorers and finished second at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational that wound up a 54-hole run at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Vandals’ Rylee Iacolucci tied for fourth place at 6-under-par 210 and teammates Jared du Toit and Daniel Sutton were in a three-way tie for seventh at 211 as Idaho put together a 12-under team score of 852, five strokes back of champion Iowa State.
Washington State, led by Michael Anderson’s 1-under 215, which earned him a tie for 13th, used its best round of the tournament, a 2-over 290, to climb one spot and finish seventh at 875.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.