By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Willamette University outhit Whitman College 9-6 on Sunday, March 11, but the Bearcats couldn't string the hits together, as the Blues won a pitchers' duel 5-1 at Borleske Field. Whitman held a 2-1 lead after four innings and maintained its slim advantage until the Blues used three hits to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Whitman advanced its record to 6-11 on the season, 2-4 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 9-11 overall, 5-7 in the NWC. The Blues won the three-game series, 2-1.
"We weren't able to push runs across when we had chances to score," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "Whitman scored four of its five runs with two outs."
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. With one out, Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) double dto left center. Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) added a single down the left field line that allowed Bailey to score. Fly outs to right field and center field ended the threat.
Whitman tied the game with an unearned run in the third inning and moved in front with a run in the fourth.
In the third, Whitman took advantage of two errors by the Bearcats. Matthew Sox reached base on an error at shortstop to begin the inning. Sox went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Court Osborn. After Anthony Lim walked, Tyler Lewis struck out. Lim stole second on a double-steal, while Sox stole third. An errant throw by catcher Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) on the play sent Sox across the plate and moved Lim to third. WU starter Brandon Nelson (Jr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) struck out Joseph Zimmer to end the inning.
Lucas Thrun hit ground-rule double to open the fourth inning for the Blues. He went to third on a fly out by Kyle Reisman to right field. Thrun scored when Brett Williams grounded out to second, giving Whitman a 2-1 edge.
Mason Fessler (Sr., DHINF, Woodburn, ORBlanchet Catholic School) of Willamette doubled to start the fifth innings, and teammate Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) hit a single later in the inning. A pair of fielder's choice plays led to Fessler and Conway being thrown out and helped Whitman starter Jimmy Smiley keep the lead. Each of the three outs during the inning were recorded on a fielder's choice.
Relief pitcher Collin Anderson started the sixth inning for the Blues and gave up back-to-back hits by Brett and Bialey. Milo Mincin quickly replaced Anderson and forced Del Prado into a 4-6-3 double play, as Brett advanced to third. Mincin caused Brendan Natuzzi (So., UT, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) to hit into a 5-3 ground out toward third for the final out of the stanza.
The Blues gained some breathing room when they scored three times in the eighth inning. Lewis singled, and then beat the throw to second when Zimmer hit into a fielder's choice. A single by Thrun loaded the bases. Brandon Murillo (Fr., RHP, Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Los Osos HS) relieved Nelson on the mound for Willamette.
Murillo forced Reisman into a pop up at third. Williams then hit a sacrifice fly to left field that drove in Lewis from third. Alex Behrman hit a two-run double to score Zimmer and Thrun.
Bailey led Willamette by going 3 of 4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. Brett went 2 of 4 and Del Prado finished 2 of 4 with an RBI. For Whitman, Thrun was 2 of 4 with a double and two runs scored. Lewis also went 2 of 4 and scored once.
Willamette will take on Swarthmore College (Pa.) in a non-conference game on Friday, March 16 at John Lewis Field. Game time is set for 3 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats will also play Swarthmore in a home doubleheader on Saturday, March 17, with the first of two games scheduled to start at 12 p.m.