California Lutheran Edges Bearcats 9-8 on Solo Homer with 2 Outs in 12th Inning

Tyler Esquivel (Jr., RF, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS)
Tyler Esquivel (Jr., RF, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Gabe Gunter hit a solo home run off the foul pole in right field with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to give California Lutheran University a 9-8 win over Willamette University on Saturday, March 18 at Ullman Stadium. CLU ended the day at 11-5 on the season, while the Bearcats fell to 15-7.

Willamette had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 12th with the bases loaded and Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) at third base with one out. Mason Fessler (Jr., INF, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) flied out to center fielder Sinjin Todd, who threw home to prevent Conway from scoring. Conway was called out on a close play at the plate.

Tyler Esquivel (Jr., RF, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS) keyed a four-run fourth inning for the Bearcats with a two-run homer, helping WU take a 4-0 lead. Esquivel went 3 of 4 during the game with a run and two RBIs.

Gunter finished 4 of 7 for the Kingsmen with a run, two RBIs and three-fourth of the cycle. He hit a double in the third inning and provided CLU with an RBI on a single in the eighth.

The fourth inning began with a double by Fessler to left center. Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) reached base on an error by the second baseman and went to second on the play. Fessler was thrown out at the plate, when the ball at the end of the play on a throw from right field. With two outs, Esquivel blasted a home run to right field.

Joseph Faudskar (Fr., OF, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) followed with a single. Kyle Paguio (So., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) also singled, advancing Faudskar to third base. Faudskar scored on a double-steal, and Paguio crossed the plate on a single to center by Conway.

Willamette took a 5-0 lead in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Fessler smacked his second double in as many innings. One out later, Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) hit an RBI single to right. In the bottom of the inning, Max Weinstein of California Lutheran hit a leadoff home run to left field, cutting WU's lead to 5-1.

Conway doubled in the top of the sixth and went to third on a single by Connor Bailey (So., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS). Eric Del Prado (Jr., INF, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) drove in Conway with a sacrifice fly to right field.

California Lutheran tacked on four runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 6-5. Jimmy Jauregui began the inning with a double, and then Brad Fullerton walked and Trey Saito was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Troy Frazier hit an infield single, allowing Jaruegui to score. Later in the frame, Weinstein connected on a two-run single and Matt Sciumbato added an RBI single.

The Bearcats added a run in the eight for a 7-5 lead, but the Kingsmen scored two runs in the bottom of the stanza. Each team scored once in the ninth inning.

In the WU half of the ninth, Brett was the first batter. He singled to left field. Aaron Fong (Jr., INF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) pinch-ran for Brett, and went to second on a wild pitch. A sacrifice bunt by Janitz, moved Fong to third. Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., OF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) followed with an RBI single through the left side.

Jauregui opened the bottom of the ninth with a double to left. Cortez Espinoza pinch-ran. With one out, Saito lined out to second base. An error as the Bearcats also tried to record a second out on the play allowed Espinoza to score, tying the game at 8-8.

Each team left two runners on base in the 10th. Saito doubled for CLU with one out in the bottom of the 11th, but he was left at third base following two consecutive ground outs.

The teams combined for 39 hits. Willamette registered 20 hits and California Lutheran totaled 19 hits.

Gunter led the Kingsmen with his four hits. Weinstein also finished with four hits and three-fourths of the cyle, while adding a run and three RBIs. Jauregui was 3 for 5 with two doubles and a run scored.

Esquivel was one of three Bearcats with three hits. Conway was 3 for 6 with a double, one run and one RBI. Fessler finished 3 of 7 with two doubles and a run scored.

WU starting pitcher Matt Steindorf (So., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) gave up just one run in the first five innings, but allowed four runs in the sixth. He left the game after six innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Relief pitchers received the win and the loss, as Jeff Rebello of CLU moved to 1-0 and Dawson Campos (Fr., RHP, Reno, NV/Galena HS) of WU fell to 0-1.

The Bearcats will close out their four-game trip to Southern California with a doubleheader at Occidental College on Sunday, March 19. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. (PDT).