By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Willamete University blasted seven extra-base hits, including a home run by Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) and a triple by Joseph Faudskar (So., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS), as the Bearcats defeated Pacific Lutheran University, 10-3, in the second game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Saturday, March 31. In the first game, the Lutes recorded five extra-base hits, including two home runs, on their way to an 8-4 victory.
The Bearcats, who won 8-6 on Friday to open the weekend, won the series two games to one. Willamette moved to 17-14 on the season, 9-9 in the NWC. Pacific Lutheran dropped to 18-10 overall, 16-4 in the NWC. The Lutes, who had only two conference losses prior to the series, still hold first place in the NWC. Willamette is tied with George Fox University and Whitworth University for fourth place, one game behind Linfield College and Whitman College, who share second place with 10-8 records.
During Saturday's first game, Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) became the Bearcats' all-time leader in putouts. He registered eight putouts in the first game to reach 940 in his career. The previous record of 937 putouts was set by Paul Duman from 1998-01. Del Prado added nine putouts in the second game, extending his record to 949.
Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick, who picked up his 200th win with the Bearcats on Friday, is now 201-181-1 in 10 seasons as the leader of the Bearcats.
"It was our best weekend as an offensive unit," Swick said. "It seemed like every out was a hard hit ball and that carried over into creating a lot of runs. In addition, we played really good defense."
The Bearcats turned seven double plays during the series, including three on Friday and three in Saturday's second game. Willamette committed just one error on the weekend, with no errors in Saturday's two games.
Carlson, Gosline Hit Homers to Lead PLU's Rally in First Game
Willamette scored two runs in the first inning of the opener and added one run in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Pacific Lutheran scored twice in the fourth, but WU took a 4-2 lead with a run in the top of the fifth. In PLU's next at bat, the Lutes plated six runs. Marques Carlson blasted a homer for the Lutes in the fourth and Anthony Gosline homered in the fifth.
Faudskar started the game with a single to right and then Conway was hit by a pitch. After a successful double-steal, Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Faudskar and send Conway to third. Conway scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth, Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) belted a double with two outs. Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) followed with a single to right, as Igarashi rounded third and scored.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Cole Johnson walked. Carlson batted next and hit a two-run homer to left field, reducing WU's lead to 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, Bailey singled up the middle with one out and went to second after the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Bailey reached third on a single by Del Prado and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brendan Natuzzi (So., 3B/P, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS).
Pacific Lutheran's outburst in the fifth inning started with a double by Adam Stump. After Tori Doten walked, Connor Cantu struck out. Gosline smacked a three-run homer to right center to give PLU a 5-4 advantage. Later in the inning, Max Cummings drove in two runs with a double. Doten brought home the final run with a bases-loaded walk.
Neither team scored in the final three and a half innings. PLU held a slim 8-7 lead in total hits. Carlson went 3 for 3 with a homer, two runs and two RBIs. Gosline led all players with his three RBIs. Igarashi's double was WU's only extra-base hit. Igarashi was 2 of 4 with a run scored.
Johnson (2-3) pitched all nine innings for Pacific Lutheran. He earned three strikeouts and allowed two walks. Willamette starter Brandon Nelson (Jr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) pitched 4 1/3 innings and fell to 4-5. The Bearcats' fourth pitcher, Mason Cook (So., RHP, Riverton, UT/Riverton HS) gave up no runs and two hits over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Bearcats Score Final Eight Runs in Second Game
In the second game, Willamette trailed 3-2 after five innings, but scored four times in the sixth to start a string of eight unanswered runs. The top seven batters in Willamette's line-up each recorded at least one hit during the game.
PLU scored one run in the first inning, when Cantu hit a leadoff double, went to third on a fly out by Gosline, and scored on a single by Jacob Bockelie. Willamette took a 2-1 lead with one out in the third when Conway blasted a two-run homer to right field. Aaron Fong (Sr., SS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), who was hit by a pitch to start the inning, scored on the play. The Lutes moved back in front with two runs in the fifth. Cantu singled to center and Gosline hit a bunt single. Both players later scored on a single by Bockelie.
Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) singled to center with one out to start Willamette's rally in the sixth. Igarashi doubled to put runners at the corners. Van Eckhardt walked and Fong provided a sacrifice fly to center to score Brett. Faudskar blasted a triple to left center to bring home Igarashi and Van Eckhardt. Conway added an RBI double, allowing Faduskar to cross the plate. The Bearcats led 6-3.
Willamette tacked on a run in the seventh on a sac fly by Igarashi after Natuzzi and Brett singled. In the eighth, Fong walked, stole second, and reached third on a wild pitch. Conway hit a fly ball to left that was misplayed, allowing Fong to score, as Conway went to second. Bailey drove in Conway with a double. Later, Bailey scored on a sac fly by Brett.
Bailey was 3 for 5 with two doubles, one run and an RBI. Conway went 2 for 3 with a double, a homer, two runs and four RBIs. Faudskar was 2 for 6 with a triple, one run and two RBIs. Also with two hits for the Bearcats were Del Prado and Brett. For the Lutes, Cantu was 4 for 5 with two doubles and two runs. Bockelie was 2 for 4 with a walk and three RBIs.
Benjamin Whitten (So., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS), who started on the mound for Willamette, earned the win to even his record at 3-3. He pitched five innings and allowed three runs. Reliever Nathan Gilman (Jr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) had a strong outing, as he allowed no runs and four hits in four innings, while striking out two batters. PLU starter Justin Armbruester fell to 2-2 with the loss.