SPOKANE, Wash. – Ryan Bird, Joel Condreay and Tyler Bailey provided the offense necessary to power Whitworth to an 11-4 win over visiting Pacific (Ore.) in the Northwest Conference baseball series finale for both schools on Saturday afternoon at Merkel Field.
More importantly, the Pirates (22-13 overall, 12-12 NWC) have advanced to play in the conference tournament as the #4 seed. Whitworth finished in a tie for fourth place with George Fox, but gets the chance to play in the tournament because the Pirates swept the Bruins earlier this season. Both Whitworth and GFU finished one game ahead of Whitman (11-13) after the Blues were swept by regular season champion Linfield College this weekend.
Whitworth will open the 2017 NWC tournament against top-seeded Linfield (24-10) on Friday afternoon.
Bird went 2-3 and drove in three runs, while Condreay also had three RBIs against the Boxers (13-21, 7-17 NWC). Bailey finished 3-4, scored twice and drove in a pair.
Whitworth jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to Bailey's two-run double, followed by Bird's double that drove in Bailey. The Pirates increased their lead to 4-0 in the third on Bird's RBI single.
Pacific pulled within 4-2 in the fourth when Taren Bradd drew a bases-loaded walk and Eli Wisdom followed with an RBI single.
Bird drove in his third run in the fifth when his ground ball to second with the bases loaded drew a throw home. The catcher's foot was ruled to be off of the plate and a swipe tag was too late to get Matthew Nelson, who had walked to lead off the frame. Condreay added a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Wisdom added a two run single in the top of the sixth to get the Boxers back to within 6-4, but that's as close as Pacific would get.
Whitworth got an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth when Garrett Hughes reached on an error, stole second and eventually scored on Nelson's sacrifice fly. The Bucs broke the game open in the seventh with three more runs. Condreay doubled home the first run and two more runs came home on a Hughes single to center field. Condreay added a sacrifice fly in the eighth for the final Whitworth run.
Matthew Pulliam earned the pitching victory with five innings of strong relief. He allowed two runs on four hits and improved to 2-0. Pulliam came on for starter Ryan Kingma, who allowed two runs on six hits in 4.0 innings as the starter.
Brady O'Keefe started on the mound for Pacific and fell to 2-6 after allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 4.0 innings.