Coming off of a successful Northwest Conference opening series against Whitman at home last weekend, in which the Loggers (7-9, 2-4 NWC) won two out of the three games, Puget Sound travelled to Eastern Washington this weekend to take on the Whitworth Pirates (8-6-1, 3-0 NWC) at Merkel Field.
The series opened with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 9. Game ONE featured a pitcher’s duel between senior Matt Robinson (Lafayette, Calif.) from Puget Sound and Dan Scheibe from Whitworth, both First-Team All-Northwest Conference starting pitchers.
Although Robinson struck out eight in 7.2 innings without giving up an earned run, Whitworth edged Puget Sound with four runs due to Logger errors. Despite an impressive offensive effort with 11 hits on the game, the Loggers could only score two, falling 4-2 in nine innings.
Game two of the doubleheader featured an early Puget Sound lead, with junior Christian Carter (San Diego, Calif.) hitting a solo home run to begin the fourth inning (Carter batted 4-5 in the game).
The Loggers added two more runs in the sixth, and thanks to a solid pitching effort on the part of junior Jarrod Beiser (Cupertino, Calif.), who gave up only one run in six innings, led the Pirates 3-1 going into the latter stages of the game.
The Pirates, however, quickly turned it around. Whitworth player Jeremy Druffel put Pirates in the lead with a grand slam in the seventh inning, and the Pirates followed this up with the addition of seven more runs in the eighth to cement a resounding 12-3 victory in favor of Whitworth.
Game three of the series on Sunday, March 10 turned out to be quite a battle. The Loggers had a 4-3 lead going into the latter stages of the game, but Whitworth pulled even at 4-4 with Puget Sound in the eighth to force the game into extra innings.
In the 14th inning, the Loggers took the initiative and scored the potential game-winning run to make it 5-4 in favor of Puget Sound.
The lead did not hold up for long, however. Whitworth immediately responded by scoring a run to tie the game up again in the bottom of the 14th, and then finally clinched the deal by scoring a sixth and game-winning run in the bottom of the 16th inning.
Despite the loss, the Loggers proved that they could compete, and compete well, with a tough conference team.
“Whitworth is a very good baseball team and we went toe to toe with them in Spokane. We’re maturing and learning with every pitch. We will continue to grow and we’re going to start winning those close games,” Coach Brian Billings said.
His players echoed similar sentiments. “We faced a very good team and went toe to toe with them all three games, we just couldn’t quite close the door but our team really came together and grew up this weekend,” sophomore Connor Savage (Bothell, Wash.) said.
“The team showed a lot of fight this weekend. It was a big jump on the learning curve for us,” Beiser added.
While the losses dropped the Loggers below .500 on the season, there is still plenty of time left for the team to turn things around. At 7-9 overall (2-4 NWC), the Loggers are still in good position with almost two months left in the season.
The Loggers will take a break from Northwest Conference play to face College of Idaho next weekend in a four game series beginning March 16.
Northwest Conference play will resume for Logger baseball on March 23 with a three-game series versus cross-town rival Pacific Lutheran University.