Pursell Belts 2-Run Homer in 12-5 Victory over Whittier; Poets Win 2nd Game, 9-3

Cole Pursell (So., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS)
Cole Pursell (So., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

WHITTIER, Calif. -- Cole Pursell (So., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) smacked a two-run homer and also hit a double, helping Willamette University earn 15 hits in a 12-5 win over Whittier College (Calif.) in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 4. The Poets defeated the Bearcats in the second game, 9-3.

Willamette won two of three games in the series. The Bearcats are 2-1 on the season. Whittier is 1-2.

Bearcats Build 6-0 Lead in First Game

A run in the second inning, plus four more in the fourth and one in the fifth, gave Willamette a 6-0 advantage midway through the first game.

In the second inning, Tyler Esquivel (Jr., UT, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS) singled to left field with one out. Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) followed with a single, and Pursell drove home Esquivel with a double down the left field line.

Esquivel started the fourth inning with a double to right center. One out later, Pursell belted his two-run homer over the left field fence. The ball landed in the front yard of a house across the street from Memorial Field.

Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) walked and stole second. Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) also walked.  Van Eckhard reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on a ground out by Kyle Paguio (So., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS). Conway crosse the plate on a double by Connor Bailey (So., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS).

Mason Fessler (Jr., 1B/DH, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) singled to open the fifth stanza. One out later, he stole second base. Janitz walked, Pursell flied out, and Van Eckhardt walked. Fessler scored when Conway also walked with the bases loaded.

Whittier tallied its first run in the bottom of the fifth. Michael Angulo doubled to right center. Angulo advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice line-drive to center field by Mason Blansett.

The Bearcats answered with three runs in the top of the sixth inning for a 9-1 lead. Esquivel hit an RBI double, Janitz drove in a run with an RBI single, and Van Eckardt brought in the third run with a sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the sixth Whittier scored twice. Matthew Macey belted a double to right center to send home the first run. Angulo drove in the other run with an RBI single.

Willamette scored three runs in the seventh for a 12-3 advantage. Paguio earned a bunt single and Bailey doubled to begin the inning. Eric Del Prado (Jr., 1B/DH, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) drove in both runners with a double to left center. Cameron Igarashi (Jr., OF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) provided the other RBI with a single down the left field line.

Esquivel was 3 for 4 during the game with two doubles, two runs and an RBI. Bailey finished 3 for 6 with a double, one run and an RBI. Pursell went 2 for with a run and three RBIs to go with his home run and double. Paguio was 2 for 5 with a run and one RBI.

Angulo led the Poets by going 3 for 5 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI. Three other Whittier players recorded two hits, as the Poets registered 13 hits overall.

Benjamin Whitten (Fr., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS), 1-0, pitched the first five innings for Willamette to record the win. He allowed just two hits, one run and one walk, while striking out four batters. Overall, four Bearcats combined to strike out seven batters and allow just two walks. Whittier starter James Beaudin fell to 0-1 after giving up nine hits and six earned runs in four innings.

Raynoud Earns Three Hits for Poets in Game 2

Jake Raynaud of Whittier led the Poets in the second game by going 3 for 5 at the plate, including a home run. He scored two runs and recorded two RBIs.

Raynaud singled and scored on a double by Macey in the bottom of the first inning. Wilamette took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third, when Conway hit a bunt single and Bailey smashed a two-run homer.

Whittier surged back in front with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Angulo belted an RBI double down the left field line, while Andrew Lamar added a run-scoring single to right center.

The Poets tacked on two additional runs in the fifth inning for a 5-2 advantage. Blansett single to start the stanza. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Mulrooney. Steven Castro walked. Raynaud drove in Blansett and sent Castro to third with a single to left center. Castro scored on an error at third base.

Mulrooney connected on an RBI single for Whittier in the top of the sixth. Willamette scored once in the top of the seventh to pull within 6-3. Bailey singled with two outs, went to second on a wild pitch, and reached home on a single by Del Prado.

Raynaud homered to open the bottom of the seventh. The Poets added two more runs to achieve the final score.

The three hits by Raynaud led all players in the second game. Blansett was the only other Poet with more than one hit, as he went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. Justin Ushio, 1-0, tossed the first six inings and allowed just five hits and two runs to record the win.

Bailey was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs for Willamette. Joseph Faudskar (Fr., OF, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) also finished 2 of 4 at the plate. WU starter, Nathan Gilman (So., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS), 0-1, gave up five hits and five runs -- four earned -- in 4 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Up Next for the Bearcats

Willamette will take on Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont, California, on Sunday, Feb. 5. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. (PST).