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Texas-Tyler rallies last, tops Whitworth 6-4

Texas Tyler’s Sam Lane crosses home plate for one of four Patriots runs during an eighth-inning rally against the Whitworth Pirates at Avista Stadium on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Texas Tyler’s Sam Lane crosses home plate for one of four Patriots runs during an eighth-inning rally against the Whitworth Pirates at Avista Stadium on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

On a night where both teams rallied in the eighth inning to take the lead, Texas-Tyler had the bigger moment and it led to a 6-4 victory Thursday over Whitworth in the NCAA Division III tournament at Avista Stadium.

The late scores overshadowed a pitcher’s duel between T.J. Orchard for the Pirates and Michael Blevins for the Patriots, who both kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning.

Afterwards, both coaches said it was one of the best college baseball games either had witnessed.

“It was a heartbreaker to say the least,” Whitworth coach Dan Ramsay said. “T.J. gave us every opportunity to win the game.”

Whitworth (30-12) will now play Friday at 3:15 p.m. against Northwest Conference-rival Pacific Lutheran (27-18), which rallied from a 6-1 deficit to win 8-6 and eliminate Cal Lutheran (31-13).

“It will be fun. We are going to have to bring it for sure,” Ramsay said of the team that had a 3-2 record against the Pirates this season. “The season is on the line.”

But on Thursday, the Pirates and Patriots (32-17) battled until the Texas-Tyler bats finally broke through.

However, Whitworth looked like it had done just enough to win the game in the eighth. The game was tied at 2-2 when Daniel Casanova tripled to score Joel Condreay. Nate Lamberty later hit a sacrifice fly to score Casanova to make it 4-2.

“I felt great” going into the bottom of the eighth with the lead, Ramsay said. “But you see it all the time in college baseball: no lead is a safe lead.”

And the winning hit came from Daniel Williams, who had gone hitless against Whitworth up to that point.

With the bases loaded and two outs and his team trailing 4-3, Williams hit a single to left field that scored two runs. But the throw got past the Pirates’ third baseman and it allowed a third run to score.

“I hadn’t been able to get a hit all night,” Williams said. “I thought a good time would be now.”

Patriots coach Chris Bertrand praised how Whitworth battled back to take the lead and how his players found a way to recapture the momentum.

“When our ball club needed (Williams) the most … he delivered,” Bertrand said. “That’s awesome.”

The big inning overshadowed a game effort by Orchard, who threw 7 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and four earned runs.

“It obviously wasn’t my best stuff tonight, but I kept it in the strike zone,” Orchard said. “I just wish I could have gone out and thrown a little better.”

He was countered by Blevins, who pitched seven innings and gave up 10 hits, two runs and had seven strikeouts. The Patriots now advance to play Thursday at noon against Trinity (Texas).

“Watching (Orchard) and Mike work against each other, I thought was great,” Bertrand said. “I can’t find the appropriate words to describe what that win means.”

In an earlier game, Trinity (Texas) beat Case Western Reserve 10-0 to eliminate the Spartans (26-15) from the tournament. Teddy Turner pitched eight strong innings for the Tigers (37-7).

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