SPOKANE, Wash. – A pair of last-inning rallies lifted visiting Willamette to a sweep of Whitworth in a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Merkel Field. The Bearcats won the opener 5-3 then took the nightcap 9-6 in 10 innings.
Willamette improved to 17-18 overall and 11-9 in the NWC while the Pirates dropped to 10-22-1, 5-15.
The teams will complete the three game series on Sunday at Noon.
Game 1 – Willamette 5, Whitworth 3Peter Hoffman threw a complete-game three-hitter to improve to 6-4 and Hunter Gallant ripped a two-run single in the ninth inning to give the Bearcats the win.
Brad Brier's RBI single in the top of the first gave Willamette an early 1-0 lead. But Whitworth scored two against Hoffman in the bottom of the first to grab its only lead of the day. Josh Davis doubled in Gerhard Muelheims and then scored on Jeremy Druffel's squeeze bunt.
The Bearcats regained the lead with two runs in the second. Tyson Giza drove in Matt Hirsch with an RBI single and Rolenn Himuro came home on the second squeeze bunt of the game.
Then the pitchers took over. Hoffman kept the Pirates at bay, while Whitworth starter Dan Scheibe kept his team in the game.
The Bucs finally tied the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth when Tyler Pfeffer raced home from second base on a throwing error. In the next at-bat the game was delayed for nearly 30 minutes after Himura was injured while chasing a foul ball down the left field line. He ran into the fence at full speed.
The break allowed both pitchers to catch their breath and neither gave up another run until Willamette's winning rally against Pirate reliever Spencer Ansett in the ninth inning. Giza and Austin Hagarty each singled with one out, then each stole a base to put a pair of runners in scoring position for Gallant's game-winning hit.
Hoffman struck out eight and walked three while allowing only two earned runs. Scheibe gave up three runs on 12 hits over 7.0 innings. Ansett (1-3) went 2.0 innings and allowed two runs on three hits.
Gallant went 4-5 at the plate for Willamette and drove in two runs. Giza had three hits in five at-bats. Davis led Whitworth with a pair of doubles and an RBI.
Game 2 – Willamette 9, Whitworth 6The Pirates rallied from deficits of 4-0 and 6-4 to force extra innings, but the Bearcats put together a two-out rally in the 10th to gain the doubleheader sweep.
Tosh Semlacher's two-run home run to left field in the top of the first inning staked Willamette to an early lead. Hagarty added an RBI double in the third. Giza's solo home run in the top of the fifth made the score 4-0 in favor of the Bearcats.
But Whitworth started to come back in the bottom of the fifth. Blake Thoren's RBI double got the Bucs within 4-1. Then Mueleims came home on a grounder to third base in the sixth to cut the lead in half.
Whitworth tied the game in the seventh. Nick Motsinger singled home a run and Muelheims followed with a triple to right to score Motsinger.
Willamette added two unearned runs in the eighth after an error kept the inning alive. Hirsch's double plated a pair. But Whitworth tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on Motsinger's double with one out. But the Pirates could not get Motsinger home for the winning run and it would cost them.
With two outs and Semlacher on second in the top of the tenth, Brandon Chinn singled him home with the eventual game-winning run. Following an error, Andrew Wilson doubled home two more insurance runs.
Parker Johnson went nine innings for the Bearcats. He improved to 3-1 after giving up six runs on 12 hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Garrett Davis gave up a single in the 10th but earned his second save of the year.
Nick Scourey threw 7.2 innings for Whitworth, allowing six runs (four earned) on 10 hits. Jason Renner (1-4) took the loss in relief after he gave up three runs (one earned) on two hits in 2.1 innings.