Ma no-hits Whitworth

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WALLA WALLA, Wash.  If the 11-inning, 6-5 Northwest Conference win in the opener over visiting Whitworth University wasn't exciting enough, Whitman made sure the day was a memorable one with first-year Eric Ma's no-hitter in the Blues' 2-0 win Saturday at Borleske Stadium in the nightcap.

The pair of wins lifts Whitman to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the league, while the Pirates slip to 6-3 and 0-2 overall.

Ma's gem left a sparklingly clean scorebook as he allowed one baserunner in only the second, third, fourth and eighth innings, each via a walk. In between he was in even greater command with 12 strikeouts in shutting down the Pirates in order over the other five innings.

He didn't allow the ball to leave the infield until the third inning and faced only one situation, in the eighth, with a runner in scoring position.

His counterpart, however, was just as stingy. Matthew Young also pitched a complete game but allowed two runs, one unearned, off 10 Whitman hits.

The game-winning hit came off David Johnson's bat in the bottom of the second as he singled home Lucas Thrun who'd doubled into center field off Young earlier in the inning.

The insurance run was added in the seventh when Jasper Crusberg's lead-off single was followed by a throwing error that allowed him to move up to second. Jake Wishart's sacrifice bunt moved him 90 feet closer, and Brett Williams' sacrifice fly to right field brought Crusberg the rest of the way home.

Saturday's opener was just as taut as the nightcap, but the excitement was of a much different flavor.

By the time the eighth inning had rolled around the teams had a combined nine runs and the lead had changed twice, with the second provided by Adrian Vela's two-run shot into the trees behind the left-field fence in the eighth, lifting Whitman ahead 5-4.

Three outs away from defeat, Whitworth battled back for one run in the top of the ninth and even left the bases loaded.

Whitman jammed the bags in the bottom of the ninth hoping for the walk-off victory, but Pirates reliever Kelly Fitzpatrick escaped via a double play and a long, loud out to center field that ended the threat.

The top of the 10th went quietly, with Whitman's Jimmy Smiley now on the mound, but the bottom of the frame had enough noise to threaten, but in the end a lead-off walk to David Johnson ended with him at third base.

The Pirates -- with two outs -- filled the bases off Smiley in the top of the 11th but he caught Whitworth's Ryan Bird looking at a third strike to keep the game even.

Williams initiated the action in the bottom of the 11th with a sharp single down the left-field line, and advanced to second on Alec Rainsford's sacrifice bunt.

A short drive into center by Joseph Zimmer looked to be a fairly harmless single but center fielder Daniel Casanaova misplayed the hop and just like that the game was over as Williams raced around third and slid across the plate for the winning run.

Smiley, the fourth pitcher of the game for Whitman, earned the win (2-0) after allowing one runs on four hits and two walks, both intentional passes, while fanning three over his three innings of work.

Garrett Atkinson did a nice job of holding the Pirates off ahead of Smiley, pitching 1 & 2/3s innings without allowing a hit.

Fitzpatrick (0-1) took the loss for the Pirates surrendering one unearned run in 2 & 1/3 innings.

Zimmer and Wishart had multi-hit games in the opener for Whitman, while Vela and Anthony Lim each registered a team best two RBIs.

The two teams go back at it again Sunday for the series finale with a single, noon-time game at Borleske.