By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- The Willamette University baseball team connected for 32 hits, starting pitchers Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) and Brandon Nelson (Sr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) earned wins, and center fielder Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) set the school record for career hits, as the Bearcats defeated George Fox University, 10-4 and 9-1, in a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Sunday, April 14. Willamette swept the three-game series, including an 8-5 win on Saturday.
The Bearcats improved to 16-13 on the season, 13-8 in NWC. George Fox slipped to 20-14 overall, 14-10 in the NWC.
Bailey was 6 of 10 at the plate during Sunday's doubleheader, giving him a school record 206 hits in his career. He broke the previous record of 202 hits set by Nik Lubisish from 1998-01.
"It was another great team performance," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick commented. "Nate and Brandon pitched very well. Justin Scanlon and Connor Bailey had huge days at the plate, and we played excellent defense."
Gilman Pitches Eight Innings in First Game to Earn 5th Win
Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) upped his record to 5-2 on the mound this season after throwing the first eight innings of the opener. He allowed nine hits and three runs, but only one run was earned. The Bruins never recorded more than two hits in the same inning. Gilman struck out four batters and had no walks.
Meanwhile, the Willamette offense was amassing 15 hits and taking advantage of four errors by George Fox. Joey Faudskar (Jr., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) blasted three doubles, while six other Bearcats contributed two hits apiece.
For the second game in a row, Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) smacked a two-run homer in the top of the first. Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) who walked to start the game, also scored. Matt Voelzke pulled GFU within 2-1 when he hit a solo homer to left field in the bottom of the first.
Bailey put Willamette up 3-1 with a sacrifice fly in the second stanza. He drove in three runs during the game to lead all players.
The Bearcats took command with four runs in the fifth for a 7-1 lead. The inning included three hits and two errors. Sam Hudd (Sr./Jr., 1B, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) drove in two runs with a double down the left field line. Hudd later scored on a double by Faudskar. The final run of the inning was scored by Faudskar when Tyler Vandemark (So., LF, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) reached base on a throwing error.
Bailey earned RBI singles in the seventh and ninth innings, as Willamette eventually claimed a 10-4 final score. Scanlon and Hudd each finished with two RBIs. For the Bruins, Chase Fetzer was 3 of 4 with a run scored.
Bailey and Scanlon Register Four Hits in Second Game
The Bearcats continued to excel on offense in the second game. Bailey and Scanlon each went 4 for 5, leading the Bearcats to a 17-hit attack. Scanlon hit another home run, his third of the weekend, and also smacked a triple on is way to two runs and four RBIs. Bailey powered two doubles into the outfield, while contributing three runs and one RBIs. Faudskar, Janitz, Cole Pursell (Sr./Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) and Brendan Natuzzi (Sr., 3B, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) each supplied Willamette with two hits in the 9-1 win.
Brandon Nelson (Sr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) pitched seven innings for the Bearcats and allowed just five hits and one run. He struck out five batters and had one walk. His strong start was followed by two scoreles and hitless innings of relief by Matt Pisacane (Fr., RHP, San Diego, CA/San Dieguito HS).
Willamette scored three runs in the first and tacked on three runs in the second. Janitz received a leadoff walk in the first and then scored on a double by Bailey to left field. Scanlon followed with an RBI triple to right center. A wild pitch allowed Scanlon to score. In the second, Faudskar hit an infield single toward short, stole second and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Vandemark. Janitz drove in Faudskar with a double to right center. Bailey singled, and Janitz soon scored on a wild pitch. Bailey crossed the plate on a single by Scanlon, as WU took a 6-0 lead.
Nelson kept George Fox off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, when Matt Ramirez belted a solo home run to left center. The Bearcats inceased their advantage to 8-1 in the seventh, starting with a solo home run by Scanlon. The second run was scored by Natuzzi when Vandemark was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. WU scored once in the eighth, when Bailey hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Scanlon.
Scanlon finished with three-fourths of the cycle with two singles, a double and a home run.
Up Next for the Bearcats
Willamette will host NWC rival Pacific Lutheran University for a trio of games at John Lewis Field next weekend. The Bearcats and the Lutes will play one game on Friday, April 19, starting at 3 p.m. (PDT). The series will end with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 20, with first pitch set for 12 p.m.
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Conner Bailey had plenty of Big Moments for the Bearcats on Sunday,
as he went 6 for 10 at the plate, with two doubles and three runs and
four RBIs. Perhaps the top moment was when he set Willamette's record
for career hits with an RBI double to left field in the first inning of the second
game. It was his 203rd career hit. Bailey went on to add three more hits
to the record (now 206), as he went 4 for 5 during the game.