Bailey Belts 2-Run Homer in 7th Inning, Bearcats go on to Defeat Pacific, 7-6

Connor Bailey (So., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS)
Connor Bailey (So., OF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Connor Bailey (So., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) smacked a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Willamette University a one-run lead, and the Bearcats went on to defeat Pacific University 7-6 in the third game of a Northwest Conference series on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Roy Helser Field. The Bearcats won the series, two games to one.

WU trailed 6-5 after Pacific tallied a run in the top of the seventh. Bailey's homer, which cleared the fence inside the left field foul pole, was recorded on a 2-0 pitch. Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS), who singled with two outs, also scored on the play.

Brandon Nelson (So., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS), who pitched the final two outs of the fifth inning and continued until one out in the eighth, picked up his first victory of the year (1-3). Jett Gallagher (Jr., RHP, Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS) tossed the final 1 2/3 innings and did not allow a run while recording his fourth save.

Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) went 3 for 5 on offense for the Bearcats. He scored one run and earned one RBI. Tyler Esquivel (Jr., UT, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS/Ventura College) finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Kyle Paguio (So., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) went 2 of 5 and scored once.

Bailey was 1 of 2 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs. Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) went 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored.

For Pacific, Ben Roquet was 3 for 4 with a run and an RBI. Eli Wisdom added a 2-for-3 performance with two doubles, a walk and two runs scored. Kurtis Kloke went 2 of 4 with a double, and also scored a run. Luke Peevyhouse was 2 of 2 with two walks and three RBIs.

All three games in the series were decided by one run. In Saturday's doubleheader to start the series, Willamette won the opener 4-3 and Pacific won the second game 5-4 in 11 innings.

On Sunday, the Bearcats scored three runs in the first inning and held a 5-1 lead entering the fourth stanza. In the first inning, Conway hit a leadoff single up the middle and Paguio followed with a single to left field. A bad pickoff throw by Pacific starter Brady O'Keefe allowed the runners to reach second and third.

Mason Fessler (Jr., 1B/DH, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) drove in Conway with a sacrifice fly to right field. With two outs, Bailey walked and stole second base. Esquivel then hit a two-RBI single.

Wisdom doubled for Pacific with one out in the top of the second. He went to third on a flyout by Roquet and scored on a wild pitch.

Willamette scored a run in the bottom of the second for a 4-1 lead, as Janitz received a leadoff walk and eventually crossed the plate on a single by Conway. In the third, Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) was hit by a pitch to open the inning and later scored on a single by Esquivel.

Pacific tied the game with two runs in the fourth inning plus two more in the fifth. Wisdom belted a leadoff double in the fourth. Roquet singled and Peevyhouse hit an RBI single to bring home Wisdom. Roquet scored later in the inning. In the fifth, Roquet provided the Boxers with an RBI single, and Peevyhouse brought in the tying run when he walked with the bases loaded.

The Boxers gained a 6-5 advantage when Shane Suyama walked to start the seventh inning, reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Wisdom, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to center by Peevyhouse.

Bailey's home run in the bottom of the seventh moved Willamette into the lead for the rest of the game.

Nelson struck out Dustin Meyer to start the top of the eighth frame. Gallagher went to the mound and caused Kloke to fly out to Bailey in left center, and then struck out Joey Galeno.

In the top of the ninth, Gallagher forced fly outs by Suyama and Wisdom, before Roquet singled to left and Peevyhouse walked. Bailey caught a fly ball by Josh Keithly near the left field line to end the game.

The Bearcats are scheduled to play a three-game NWC series at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5. On Saturday, the teams will play a doubleheader at 11 a.m. (PST). On Sunday, the Bearcats and the Pirates will conclude the series with a single game at 12 p.m.