Willamette Pounds Out 13 Hits to Defeat Whittier 11-8 in Season Opener

Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS)
Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

WHITTIER, Calif. -- Willamette University pounded out 13 hits on offense and committed no errors on defense, as the Bearcats opened the 2017 season with an 11-8 win over Whittier College (Calif.) on Friday, Jan. 3. The game was called after seven innings due to darkness following three-and-a-half hours of action in cool and rainy conditions.

Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) led the Bearcats by going 3 for 5 at the plate with a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) finished 2 for 4 with a two doubles, three runs and an RBI.

The Bearcats, 1-0, and the Poets, 0-1, are set to play a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 4. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. (PST).

Whittier was led by Matthew Macey, who went 3 for 4 at the plate. He hit a 3-run homer, connected for one double, scored a run and earned four RBIs. Brandon Mulrooney was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs.

Willamette scored once in the top of the first inning. Conway led off the game with a double to right center. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Paguio (So., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) and scored on a single by Connor Bailey (So., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS).

The Poets answered with one run in the bottom of the stanza. Mulrooney started the at bat with a single to right field. Steven Castro sent him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Mulrooney went to third on a ground out by Jake Raynaud and scored when Macey doubled down the right field line.

In the bottom of the third inning, Whittier scored three runs for a 4-1 lead. Mulrooney walked and Castro singled up the middle. A flyout advanced Mulrooney to third. Macey followed with his 3-run homer.

Willamette tacked on four runs in the top of the fourth and four more in the fifth to grab a 9-4 lead. Cameron Igarashi (Jr., OF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) drove in the first two runs of the fourth inning with a bases-loaded single up the middle. Brett and Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) scored on the play.

A double-steal put Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) at third and Igarashi at second. A passed ball allowed Van Eckhardt to score and sent Igarashi to third. Paguio was hit by a pitch, before Igarashi scored on an error by the pitcher.

Mason Fessler (Jr., 1B/DH, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) walked to start the fifth inning. He scored when Brett batted next and blasted a two-run homer. With two outs, Igarashi singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Conway drove in Igarashi with an RBI double and Paguio brought home Conway with an RBI single.

The Poets battled back in the bottom of the sixth inning, as they scored four runs on four hits. Hank Burditt drove in the first run. The next two runs crossed the plate on a bases-loaded double to left center by Mulrooney. Castro created the final run of the inning when his sacrifice fly to left field allowed Burditt to score.

Mulrooney was left stranded at second base after Raynoud lined out to right field and Macey grounded out to relief pitcher Jett Gallagher.

Willamette turned three hits and two errors into two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Conway walked with one out. He scored when a single by Paguio led to an error by the center fielder. Paguio advanced to third on the play. With two outs, Eric Del Prado (Jr., 1B/DH, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) singled to drive in Paguio.

Gallagher faced just three batters in the bottom of the seventh. In two innings of work, he allowed one hit and recorded one strikeout. Willamette starter Matt Steindorf (So., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) was credited with allowing all eight of Whittier's runs, but picked up the pitching win. Gallagher registered a save.

Whittier's starter, Alex Baez, gave up six hits and five runs -- four earned -- in four innings. He fell to 0-1 on the season. The Poets recorded 10 hits on offense, but committed six errors on defense.