By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Eric Waldichuk (Fr., 1B, San Diego, CA/University City HS) blasted a three-run homer in the second inning, and Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) smacked a two-run triple in the eighth inning, to lead Willamette University to a 14-4 victory over archrival Linfield College on Sunday, March 10 at Roy Helser Field. In between the big hits by Waldichuk and Janitz, the Bearcats scored six runs in the sixth inning on two hits and three errors to take a 9-2 lead. Janitz increased the lead to 11-2, and then the Bearcats tallied three runs in the top of the ninth. The Wildcats scored three runs in their final at bat.
Willamette won the series with Linfield two games to one. The Bearcats improved to 10-4 on the season and to 7-2 in the Northwest Conference. Linfield dropped to 4-11 overall, 2-7 in the NWC.
Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS), who started on the mound for the Bearcats, pitched five innings and allowed just two runs on five hits. He struck out three batters and had only one walk. Gilman upped his record to 3-0. Benjamin Whitten (Jr., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) pitched in the next three innings and allowed no runs and one hit. Liam Keefe (So., LHP, Lake Arrowhead, CA/Rim of the World HS) tossed the ninth inning.
"We pitched and played good defense and had some timely hitting," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick noted. "It was great to get another series win on the road."
With one out in the top of the second, Janitz walked. One out later, Brendan Natuzzi (Sr., DH/3B, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) walked. Waldichuk batted next and sent the ball over the fence in left center to give the Bearcats a 3-0 lead. It was the freshman's third home run of the season.
Linfield chipped back in to the game with a run in the bottom of the second and another run in the third. In the second, Wyatt Smith walked with one out, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Tanner Earhart. In the third, Ben Whitt doubled to right center with two outs and crossed the plate on a double down the left field line by Brian Cromwell.
The Bearcats took charge of the game with six runs in the sixth inning. Willamette had just two hits in the stanza -- a two-run single by Cole Pursell (Sr./Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) and an RBI single by Janitz that combined to drove in the final three runs. Earlier in the inning, the Bearcats benefited from three errors by the Wildcats, plus two hit batsmen.
Willamette's offensive half of the sixth inning also included a sacrifice bunt by Sean Little (So., INF, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) and an intentional walk issued to Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS). All six runs were unearned against Linfield.
With the Bearcats still leading 9-2 in the top of the eighth, Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) hit a double to right center with two outs. Pursell reached first on an error at third base, as Scanlon went into third. Janitz belted his triple to center field, sending Scanlon and Pursell across the plate. In the top of the ninth, Bailey added a 2-RBI single and Scanlon produced an RBI double.
The Bearcats outhit Linfield by only a 9-8 mark, but the Wildcats committed five errors, compared to two miscues by Willamette. Pitchers for the Wildcats hit three batters and allowed seven walks. WU pitchers gave up only two walks and did not hit a batter.
Janitz was 2 of 4 with his triple, two runs and three RBIs. Scanlon also went 2 of 4 while earning two doubles, scoring twice and recording two RBIs. Bailey finished 2 for 5 with a double, two runs and a pair of RBIs. Including Waldichuk's homer, the Bearcats pounded five extra-base hits. For Linfield, Cook went 2 of 3, while Cameron Fox was 2 of 5 with a double and an RBI.
Willamette will host Whitworth University in a three-game Northwest Conference series next weekend. The Bearcats and the Pirates will play two games at John Lewis Field on Saturday, March 16, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). The teams will compete in one game on Sunday, March 17, also at 12 p.m.
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Waldichuk had one hit during the game, but it set the tone for
the rest of the afternoon. Waldichuck's hit was a three-run
homer to left center that gave the Bearcats a 3-0 lead in the
second inning. Linfield pulled within 3-2 after three innings, but
Waldichuck's teammates also provided key hits and Linfield
committed five errors, as WU pulled way for the 14-4 win.