By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) pitched a complete game, while Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) and Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) each smacked a home run, as Willamette University earned an 8-2 victory over University of Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference game on Sunday, April 8 at John Lewis Field. The Bearcats held a 4-2 lead after 2 1/2 innings, and then expanded the margin with four runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Willamette improved to 18-14 on the season, including 10-9 in the NWC. Puget Sound dropped to 15-15 overall, 9-10 in the NWC. Willamette is tied with George Fox University for fourth place in the NWC standings, half a game behind Whitman College (11-9) in third place and one game in front of Puget Sound in sixth. The Bearcats and the Loggers will complete their three-game series with a doubleheader on Monday, April 9 starting at 12 p.m. (PDT).
"Matt had another outstanding outing," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick commented. "He had great command and was able to get a lot of early contact. We made the most of opportunities on offense."
Bailey blasted a solo home over the right field fence with two outs in the bottom of the first to give Willamette a 1-0 lead. Brett doubled the lead as the firrst batter in the bottom of the second when he sent a low pitch out of the park in right center. Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) followed with a double to left. Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) provided a short bunt near the plate to move Igarashi to third. Van Ekchardt reached third base, however, when the catcher's throw to first was wide. Igarashi scored on the play.
Aaron Fong batted next and hit a single to left center that looked like it would be an out, but the shortstop lost the ball in the sun. Van Eckhardt had to hold up at third. Later, Van Eckhardt scored on a double-steal, with Fong being thrown out at second, as the Bearcats took a 4-0 lead. The Loggers avoided further damage with back-to-back ground outs.
After sending three batters to the plate in each of the first two innings, Puget Sound had six batters and produced two runs in the top of the third. With two outs, Connor Dunn singled up the middle and Kyle Strash singled down the right field line. With runners at first and third, Cal Miramaru hit a sinking line drive single that went off the glove of second baseman Troy Conway (Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS). The ball went several yards into the outfield, as Dunn scored and Strash went to second. A single to right by Jack Gries allowed Strash to score. Miramaru attempted to reach third base on the play, but was thrown out.
Pitching dominated the game from the bottom of the third inning through the top of the eighth. The only base runners Van Eckhardt of Willamette, who walked with two outs in the fourth, Nolan Wiler of Puget Sound, who singled with one out in the fifth, and Strash of Puget Sound, who walked with two outs in the fifth. All three runners were left on base.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Conway was hit by a pitch and Bailey singled to left center. After Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) lined out to right field, Conway and Bailey completed a double-steal.
Brendan Natuzzi (So., 3B/P, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) received a walk to load the bases. Brett hit a ball into left center. The center fielder covered significant ground and converged with the left fielder on the play, but the ball fell untouched to the ground for a bases-clearing double. Igarashi followed with a triple to the right field corner that enabled Brett to score.
Steindorf faced four batters in the bottom of the ninth. Hunter Riley singled with two outs, but Steindorf registered his seventh strikeout when pinch-hitter Tyler Mick went down swinging. Steindorf, who improved to 7-3, allowed just six hits, two runs and one walk. Joe Brennan, who started for the Loggers, fell to 3-5 after giving up five hits and four runs (three earned) in seven innings. He had three strikeouts and one walk.
Brett was 2 of 4 for the Bearcats, with a double, a homer, two runs and four RBIs. Bailey also went 2 of 4, including his team-leading eighth homer. Bailey scored twice and had one RBI. Igarashi finished 2 of 4 with a tirple, one run scored and one RBI. Puget Sound received one it each from six players.