Van Eckhardt Belts a Homer and Two Doubles to Lead Willamette over L&C, 15-7

Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS)
Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, Ore -- Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) remained hot at the plate for Willamette University in a 15-7 non-conference win over Lewis & Clark College on Wednesday, April 5, as he went 4 of 4 with a home run, two doubles and a single. He scored four runs and registered six RBIs.

Willamette is 21-11 on the season. The Bearcats lead the NWC with a 13-5 record, but Wednesday's game was not part of the conference schedule. Lewis & Clark fell to 5-26.

Van Eckhardt has pounded out at least one home run in four of Willamette's last six games. He is tied for WU's home run lead this season with five homers -- all during a current six-game hitting streak. He is 12 of 23 (.522) as a hitter in those games.

Willamette scored eight runs in the bottom of the second inning to erase a 2-1 deficit and take a 9-2 lead. The Bearcats' advantage was reduced to 10-4 after L&C scored twice in the top of the fourth inning, but Willamette countered with five runs in the bottom of the fourth.

During the game, Eric Del Prado (Jr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) was 2 for 4 with two doubles. Mason Fessler (Jr., INF, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) finished 2 of 3 with a run and two RBIs. Connor Bailey (So., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) went 2 for 4, scored once and provided two RBIs.

For L&C, Tommy Massari was 3 for 4 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs. Matthew Donovan went 3 for 3 with an RBI.

Both teams used plenty of substitutions during the non-conference game. Fifteen players batted for Willamette and 14 batters went to the plate for L&C. A total of eight WU pitchers saw action, with no one throwing more than 1 2/3 innings. The Pioneers sent seven pitchers to the mound.

Van Eckhardt singled with one out in the bottom of the first, and stole second base. He also stole third base, and scored on an errant throw by the catcher. In the top of the second inning, Sean Shepherd hit a one-out single for L&C. Massari followed with a two-run homer to left field to give th Pioneers a 2-1 lead.

The Bearcats responded with eight runs on six hits and one error in the bottom of the second. Tyler Esquivel (Jr., RF, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS) reached first and second on a throwing error by the shortstop to begin the rally. One out later, Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) and Aaron Fong (Jr., INF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) were hit by pitches.

Troy Conway (Jr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) drove in Esquivel with a bases-loaded single to right field. Van Eckhardt cleared the bases with a double to left. Later, Fessler and Bailey earned RBI singles, while Cole Pursell (So., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) contributed a sacrifice fly. Janitz brought in the final run opf the inning with a single.

Van Eckhardt blasted a solo home run in the third inning to increase Willamette's lead to 10-2. The Pioneers plated two runners in the top of the fourth to reduce the margin to six runs. The Bearcats exploded for five runs and a 15-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Fong singled in one run to start the rally, before Van Eckhardt supplied the big hit once again with a two-run double down the right field line. Fessler drove in the next run on a ground out, and Bailey tacked on an RBI with an infield hit.

Willamette will play three NWC games at University of Puget Sound this weekend. The Bearcats and the Loggers will open the series with two games on Saturday, April 8, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats and Puget Sound will play one game at 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 9.