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March 17, 2012

PLU and Whitworth Split NWC Baseball Doubleheader

SPOKANE, Wash. – Pacific Lutheran got a stellar pitching performance from Collin Nilson to claim the nightcap 3-1 after Whitworth took a 10-5 win in the opening game of a Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader played Saturday at Merkel Field. 

The Pirates (10-6-1 overall, 4-1 NWC) and PLU (11-6, 6-2) will conclude the three-game series at Merkel Field on Sunday at Noon.

First Game - Whitworth 10, PLU 5

Tyler Pfeffer, who had nine RBIs on Monday at Puget Sound, delivered two doubles and a triple in the Pirates' victory.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Whitworth strung together five runs on six hits and one PLU error to take a 6-3 lead.  Preston Van Doren doubled to open the inning and later scored when a throw got away from Lute starting pitcher Chris Bishop.  Nick Motsinger added an RBI single and Pfeffer followed with a run-scoring double.  Landon Scott, who had singled earlier in the inning, scored on JR Jarrell's ground out to second base and Paul Miller singled home Pfeffer with the final run of the inning.

Whitworth broke the game open with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.  After Scott singled to lead off, Pfeffer tripled him home.  Pfeffer scored on the Lutes' second throwing error of the game and Michael Takemura drove in the final run with a squeeze bunt to increase the lead to 9-2.

Spencer Ansett started on the mound for the Pirates and settled down after giving up two PLU runs in the top of the first.  With two outs Ryan Frost  and Brock Gates singled.  After a walk Bo Pearson doubled down the left field line with the bases loaded to give the Lutes a quick two-run lead.  But Ansett improved to 4-1 by going the distance.  He did not allow another run until the sixth and scattered nine hits while allowing five earned runs.

PLU got within 9-4 in the sixth when Jaron Iwakami drew a bases loaded walk and Gates scored on a sacrifice fly.

Kevin Valerio singled in the Pirates' final run in the seventh after Pfeffer led off the inning with his second double.

Ethan Ottemiller doubled home PLU's last run in the top of the ninth.

Bishop (2-1) allowed six runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings on the mound for the Lutes.  Gates led PLU at the plate with two hits and two runs scored.

Game 2 – Pacific Lutheran 3, Whitworth 1

Making his second start of the season, Nilson improved to 3-0 after throwing a complete-game five-hitter to give the Lutes a split of the doubleheader.

Nilson's only run allowed was unearned as Pfeffer reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning and later scored on Jarrell's double.  That tied the game 1-1 as Nilson and Whitworth starter Carson Blumenthal were entwined in a classic pitchers' dual.

PLU's first run came in the second inning when Gates led off with his third home run of the season.

The Lutes scratched across the winning run against Blumenthal in the eighth.  Taylor Wattenberg led off the inning with a single and later scored on Iwakami's sacrifice fly to left field.  PLU added an insurance run in the ninth after two walks and a passed ball allowed Jacob Hoffman to score on Corey Moore's infield single.

Nilson struck out three batters and walked only one in his complete-game effort.  Blumenthal was nearly as tough, giving up only four hits in 8.0 innings of work with six strikeouts and one walk.

Courcy had two of PLU's five hits, while Nick Motsinger had two of Whitworth's five hits.

(Courtesy of Whitworth Sports Information Office.)