Whitworth outlasts CNU to stay alive
Despite 21 hour rain delay, six errors, Pirates top Captains
APPLETON, Wis. -- It took nearly 24 hours to complete, but Whitworth earned its first victory at the NCAA Division III Championship with a 7-2 win against Christopher Newport on Sunday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Pirates improved to 31-15-1 and will play on Monday in another elimination game against either SUNY Cortland or Wheaton (Mass.). The sixth-ranked Captains finished the season with a 34-10 record.
Whitworth won despite a season-high six errors thanks to strong pitching from freshmen Carson Blumenthal and Nick Scourey and the timely hitting of J.R. Jarrell.
"We've talked all year about winning ugly and this was a perfect example," said Pirates head coach Dan Ramsay. "Those errors were uncharacteristic of our team but the guys came back to make big plays at the end."
Whitworth led 4-2 in the middle of the fifth after the game was delayed from Saturday by rain for almost 21 hours. After the resumption on Sunday the Bucs were able to outscore CNU 3-0 the rest of the way.
Blumenthal threw the first five innings on Saturday and gave up two runs (one earned) on only three hits. He struck out four and walked two to improve to 6-5 this season. Scourey tossed the final four innings and did not allow a run or a hit until the ninth, when the Captains got two hits. Scourey then secured his first save by getting the final out on a ground ball to third base.
Jarrell had an RBI single in the Pirates' two-run first inning on Saturday. After CNU tied the game 2-2 in the third on an unearned run, Whitworth added two more in the bottom of the third. Landon Scott singled through the left side to drive in the second run.
The Bucs started the resumption on Sunday by batting in the bottom of the fifth and had their All-American at the plate. Tyler Pfeffer led off with a double and eventually scored on Kevin Valerio's single through the right side for a 5-2 lead.
The key half inning was the top of the eighth. Scourey lost sight of the strike zone and walked the first three batters to load the bases. He then settled down and got Ben Landa to ground to third where Paul Miller was able to force out Matt Shoemaker at home. Christopher McDougal then drove a ball out to right field that looked like it would at least score a run on a sacrifice fly. But Whitworth rightfielder Ryan Beecroft made the catch and threw a perfect strike to catcher Joshua Davis to get Steven Lundemuth at home plate for the double play.
The Bucs were able to put the game away in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Jarrell's two-run double.
Whitworth finished with 15 hits as Jarrell and Pfeffer each went 3-for-5. Pfeffer and Gerhard Muelheims scored three runs apiece.
The historic Division III Championship victory comes 52 years after the Pirates claimed the NAIA title.