Spencer Ansett tossed eight scoreless innings to lead Whitworth to a 12-0 win over 15th-ranked Trinity (Texas) and into Saturday’s championship game of the NCAA Division III baseball regional at Linfield College.
Playing in their first-ever NCAA Division III tournament, the Pirates improved to 29-14-1 while winning for the second time on Friday and defeating the same team that knocked them into the regional losers’ bracket on Thursday. The Bucs defeated Concordia (Texas) 5-1 earlier on Friday. The Tigers fell to 35-11.
Whitworth will play in the regional championship game at 3:30 pm on Saturday against the winner of tomorrow’s first game between Trinity and Coe (Iowa). That will also be a rematch game between the Tigers and the Kohawks, who met in the first round with Trinity pulling out a 2-0 victory. Kevin Valerio went 3-4 and drove in four runs for the Pirates, while Paul Miller had a pair of hits and three RBIs.
Ansett improved to 8-3 by keeping Trinity off balance throughout the game. He allowed seven hits, but walked only two and struck out one. The Tigers had trouble stringing solid at-bats together against Ansett’s breaking balls. Whitworth got on the board in the bottom of the second with three runs on only two hits, thanks to a pair of walks by Trinity starter Franklin Bay (2-2).
Landon Scott led off with a single up the middle and he was sacrificed to second by JR Jarrell. Consecutive walks to Joshua Davis and Erik Nikssarian loaded the bases for Paul Miller, who doubled down the left field line to drive in the first two runs. Valerio’s ground ball to shortstop drove in Nikssarian.
The Bucs broke the game open in the fifth with six runs on four hits, a pair of Trinity errors and a wild pitch. Gerhard Muelheims singled and went to third one out later on a Scott’s hit to left. JR Jarrell drove a ball deep enough to left to score Muelheims. Then the wheels came off for the Tigers. Davis singled to center, moving Scott to second. Consecutive wild pitches by Bay allowed Scott to score. A walk to Nikssarian led to a pitching change. When Nikssarian stole second base the throw from home went into center field, allowing Davis to score and Nikssarian to go to third.
After a walk to Miller Valerio followed with an RBI single that led to the second pitching change of the inning for the Tigers. Muelheims, in his second at-bat of the inning, reached on a throwing error by the second baseman, which allowed Valerio and Miller to score the last two runs. By the time the inning was over the Pirates led 9-0.
Perhaps chilled by his long stint on the bench during the bottom of the fifth, Ansett allowed the first two Trinity batters to reach in the sixth and faced his first real trouble of the game. But Ansett struck out Jules Cronk and got the next two batters to keep the shutout alive.
The Pirates added three more in the sixth. Miller walked with the bases loaded to make the score 10-0 and Valerio followed with a two-run single up the middle. Nick Combo pitched a perfect ninth inning in relief of Ansett.