By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman College broke open a scoreless pitchers' duel by plating eight runs in the fifth inning, and the Blues went on to defeat Willamette University, 9-1, at Borleske Field on Monday, March 25 in the third game of a Northwest Conference series. The Blues improved to 11-13 on the season, 6-6 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 11-10 overall, including 8-7 in the NWC.
The teams played the first two games on Saturday, March 23, with Willamette winning the opening game, 9-6, and Whitman taking the second game, 4-2. The third game was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed one day due to the weather.
Starting pitchers Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) of Willamette and Matthew Sox of Whitman zoomed through the first 4 1/2 innings without allowing a run. Gilman allowed the Blues just three hits in the first four innings, while Sox limited the Bearcats to three hits through five innings.
In the bottom of fifth, Whitman collected eight hits on its way to scoring eight runs. Five of the hits were doubles, as the Blues earned their only extra-base hits of the game. Lucas Thrun drove in two runs with a double and Alex Behrman earned two RBIs with a single.
Whitman added a run in the eighth inning when Thrun hit an RBI single. The Bearcats scored one run in the ninth inning after Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) doubled to start the frame. With one out Brendan Natuzzi (Sr., 3B, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) blasted a double to right field to drivie Scanlon across the plate. A strikeout and a fly out ended the game.
The Bearcats threatened to score the game's initial run with one out in the top of the first after Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) singled and went to third on a double by Scanlon. Sox was able to register a strikeout and then force a ground out to get out of the inning.
Scanlon's two doubles led the Bearcats, as he finished the game 2 of 3 with a run scored. Tyler Kurata (So., LF, Seal Beach, CA/Los Alamitos HS) also went 2 for 3. Natuzzi contributed a double and an RBI. Bailey and Cole Pursell (Sr./Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) each hit a single.
Thrun led the Blues by going 3 for 5 with a run scored, a double and three RBIs. Cole Edwards was 3 of 4 with a run and an RBI. Berhman went 2 for 3 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs.
Sox advanced his record to 3-1 with the win, while Gilman ended the day with a 3-2 mark. Sox earned seven strikeouts and allowed one walk in seven innings, while giving up only four hits. Gilman struck out four batters and did not have a walk.
The Bearcats will be back in action on Wednesday, March 27 when they host Oregon Institute of Technology in a doubleheader at John Lewis Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Justin Scanlon doubled to right center to start the ninth inning
and then scored when Brendan Natuzzi's fly ball to right field
resulted in a two-base error. Scanlon also hit a double in the
first inning and was 2 for 3 at the plate. In addition, he earned
five assists and one putout while playing second base.