By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Willamette University amassed a season-high 18 hits to back up a seven-hitter from Benjamin Whitten (So., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) and Jason Snare (Fr., LHP, Seattle, WA/Bainbridge Island HS), as the Bearcats pulled away from Whitman College, 12-2, in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 10. Eleven Bearcats contributed at least one hit to the season-high hit total. In Saturday's first game, Whitman built a 5-1 lead after four innings and went on to defeat the Bearcats, 6-2.
"It was good to bounce back in the game two," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "The offense clicked and Ben and Jason did a great job of putting up zeros."
Willamette ended the day at 9-10 overall and 5-6 in the Northwest Conference. Whitman completed the doubleheader with a 5-11 overall record, 1-4 in the NWC. The teams will finish the three-game series with one game on Sunday, March 11. First pitch at Borleske Stadium is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).
Bearcats Get Offense Rolling in Second Game for 12-2 Win
Lots of offense from throughout the lineup helped Willamette rally from an early 2-0 deficit and surge past Whitman for a 12-2 win in the second game. Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) led the way with a 3-for-5 performance that included one run and three RBIs. Five other Bearcats contributed two hits. They were Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS), Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS), Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS), Brendan Natuzzi (So., UT, Napa, CAJustin-Siena HS), and Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CALoyola HS). Five more added one hit apiece.
Even so, it was Whitman that plated the game's first two runs in the second inning. Kyle Reisman singled to open the stanza. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Williams. Matthew Sox singled to center field. When the ball was misplayed, Reisman scored and Sox went to third base. Sox scored an unearned run on a ground out by Alex Behrman.
The Bearcats tied the game in the top of the third as they started a string of 12 unanswered runs. In the top of the third, Conway singled through the left side with two outs. Van Ekchardt was up next, and smacked a two-run homer over the right field fence.
Four runs in the fourth inning for the Bearcats gave Willamette a 6-2 lead. Once again, the damage was recorded with two outs. Del Prado was hit by a pitch and Mason Fessler (Sr., DH/INF, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) singled through the left side. Aaron Fong (Sr., SS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) walked to load the bases. Igarashi then singled to right field to score Del Prado and Fessler. Conway added a two-run double to left center, sending Igarashi and Fong across the plate.
Brett doubled to start the fifth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS). Willamette took a 7-2 advantage into the seventh inning.
Five hits helped the Bearcats push three runs across the plate in the seventh. Del Prado recorded a two-RBI double, while Igarashi brought home the third run with an RBI single. Del Prado and Ben Setlak (Fr., OF, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) each drove in one run in eighth with an RBI single.
Whitten pitched five innings and allowed just two runs, one earned. He allowed six hits and two walks, while recording four strikeouts. Whitten improved to 2-2 on the season. Whitman starter Tristan Kalnins gave up the first six runs in 3 2/3 innings and fell to 1-1. Snare recorded his first save by pitching four scoreless innings for the Bearcats, while allowing just one hit. He struck out three batters and allowed two walks.
Ainsworth Allows One Run in Six Innings, as Blues Win Opener, 6-2
Whitman's starter in the first game, Steven Ainsworth, lasted six innings on the mound and allowed just one run and four hits. He registered seven strikeouts and allowed four walks. He moved to 1-2 on the season.
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Igarashi walked and stole second. Two outs later, Del Prado singled to send Igarashi across the plate. Natuzzi also singled and Brett walked, loading the bases. Ainsworth struck out Fessler to end the threat.
In the bottom of the first, Tyler Lewis singled with one out. Joseph Zimmer followed with a two-run homer to left field, as the Blues moved in front, 2-1. Zimmer blasted a solo homer to left in the third inning to increase Whitman's advantage to 3-1.
Two runs in the fourth inning provided the Blues with a 5-1 lead. Both runs were scored with two outs. Anthony Lim brought in Williams with the first run on a single to left field. Court Osborn tallied the second run when Lewis reached base on an error at shortstop.
Willamette had a chance to reduce the deficit in the fifth inning, when Igarashi was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Van Ekchardt was walked. One out later, Del Prado reached base on an error by the second baseman. Ainsworth got out of the jam by getting Natuzzi to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
After the Blues added a run in the seventh, the Bearcats scored once in the eighth. Natuzzi singled with one out. Brett powered a double to left field, allowing Natuzzi to advance to third. Fessler hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Natuzzi. Willamette had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the ninth, but a double play ended the game.
Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS), Willamette's starting pitcher, fell to 3-3 with the loss. He allowed five runs -- four earned -- in six innings. He struck out four batters, while allowing seven hits and one walk.
Zimmer was 2 of 3 for the Blues with two homers, one walk, two runs and three RBIs. Lim went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. The Blues held a slim 8-7 edge in total hits. Natuzzi went 2 of 5 with one run scored for the Bearcats. Van Eckhardt and Brett each hit one double.