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GEORGE FOX 13-5, WHITWORTH 3-6: Bruins Win Big but Pirates Win in Extra Innings
WEST LINN, Ore. – An eight-run fifth inning lifted the George Fox University Bruins to a 13-3 first-game win, but the visiting Whitworth University Pirates earned a split of their Northwest Conference baseball doubleheader with a 6-5, 10-inning win in the second game Saturday afternoon here at the West Linn High School Field.
In the opener, George Fox right-hander Brian Ranta improved to 7-1 with eight solid innings, scattering eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk, before Kyle Albertson worked a 1-2-3 ninth. Southpaw Liam O’Brien (1-2), the first of four Whitworth hurlers, took the loss.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first on a lead-off double by Kevin Valerio and a run-scoring single by J.R. Jarrell. The Bruins tied it in the home half on a double by Dan Winterstein and an RBI single by Sam Stahl.
Whitworth regained the lead in the second as Gerhard Muelheims drew a walk, went to third on Kyle Krustangel’s single to right, and scored on a safety squeeze by Michael Takemura. The Bruins responded in the bottom of the frame with two runs to take the lead for good on a walk to Nate Hickok and Winterstein’s second home run of the year, a towering blast to left-center.
Ranta shut out the Pirates over the next four innings, and his offense turned the game into a breather with its eight-run fifth. Derek Blankenship got the rally going with an infield single, and Zac Israel reached second on a hit-and-run play when his grounder up the first-base line was thrown away by relief pitcher Ryan Beliel, sending Blankenship to third and paving the way for the big inning.
John Mountz bunted Blankenship home and was safe when an attempt was made, but late, at the plate. Hickok was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Winterstein’s forceout at third scored Israel. Taylor Hunter singled to score Hickok, and after James King replaced Beliel, Stahl doubled in Winterstein, Eric Gantenbein doubled in Hunter with Stahl stopping at third, Derek Aldrich drove in Stahl with a ground out, Blankenship doubled in Gantenbein, and Israel singled in Blankenship.
Whitworth got one more run in the seventh when Nick Ashley doubled and scored on two ground outs. The Bruins closed out the scoring in the last of the seventh on Aldrich’s second home run of the season after a single by Gantenbein.
The Bruins collected 13 hits in the game, with Gantenbein getting three and Winterstein, Stahl, and Blankenship two apiece. Winterstein scored three times and drove in three, and Aldrich had three RBIs. Landon Scott had three of Whitworth’s eight hits.
In the nightcap, the Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the Bruins’ Clay Gartner. Nathan Johnson and Muelheims hit back-to-back doubles for a run in the third, and Krustangel crushed his first home run of the year to right in the fourth after a single by Valerio.
Held to two hits through four innings by the Pirates’ Eric Anderson, the Bruins knocked him out and took the lead with five runs in the fifth. Israel doubled to start the inning, and after a sacrifice, Hickok was hit by a pitch. Winterstein was safe on a grounder to third when a throw to second trying to get Hickok, who had been running on the play, was late, loading the bases. Hunter then drew a walk to force in Israel with the first run. Johnson moved over to the mound from short, replacing Anderson, and was greeted by a two-run single to right by Stahl to tie the game. Aldrich hit a sacrifice fly to score Hunter, and Blankenship’s single scored Stahl.
That was all Johnson (3-3) would allow, giving up only one hit - a single by Winterstein in the sixth - the rest of the way. He fanned three and walked four but allowed no more runs, giving his teammates a chance to rally.
The Pirates tied it in the eighth against Bruins reliever Carl Mason. Valerio led off with his second home run of the season, and C.J. Perry reached on a one-out error at short. Perry moved up on a wild pitch and a single by Takemura. Johnson then hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Stahl, who elected to try for an inning-ending double play instead of going for Perry heading home, but his throw to second was high and the game was tied.
Whitworth got the winning run in the 10th against Bruins closer Jacob Brown (1-1). Valerio and Perry singled to put runners at the corners with one away, and Takemura, after fouling a bunt attempt off his face, successfully laid one down the first-base line as Valerio scored. Johnson allowed one runner in the bottom of the 10th on an error at short, but nailed down with the win with a double-play grounder.
Valerio had four of the Pirates’ 11 hits, while Muelheims and Johnson had two apiece. Stahl had two of the Bruins’ six hits.
George Fox (18-6, NWC 9-5), which is ranked 14th in the D3baseball.com poll, had a seven-game winning streak snapped in the second game. The Bruins and Whitworth (11-15, NWC 5-6) will complete the three-game series Sunday at 12:00 noon, also at West Linn, as George Fox’s Morse Field has a water-logged outfield.