By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University scored five runs on five hits in the first inning, but three Whitworth University pitchers allowed just two hits during the rest of the game, as the Pirates rallied for a 9-5 win over the Bearcats on Sunday, March 17 in Northwest Conference action at John Lewis Field. The Pirates extended their winning streak to six games, while improving to 10-9 on the season, 7-2 in the NWC. Willamette ended the day at 10-7 overall, 7-5 in the NWC.
Whitworth, which went 16 of 34 (.471) with two outs on Saturday, was 5 of 14 at the plate (.357) with two outs on Sunday. After recording 11 RBIs with two outs on Saturday, the Pirates drove in three more runs with two outs on Sunday. Willamette was 2 for 25 with two outs during the series, and the Bearcats drove in only one run with two outs.
"Any team can have a tough weekend," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "The test of a good team is how they respond when it happens."
In the bottom of the first inning, Willamette's opening three batters each earned a hit. Kyle Paguio (Sr., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) doubled to get the inning underway. Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) singled to center to advance Paguio to third. Scanlon followed with an RBI single to left, sending Paguio across the plate and moving Bailey to second.
One out later, Bailey stole third and Ethan Fischel (Fr., 2B, Eureka, CA/Eureka HS) drove in Bailey with a single to left. Scanlon scored on a double to right center by Sean Little (So., RF, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) and Fischel reached home on a ground out by Kyle Underwood (So., C, Highland, CA/Citrus Valley HS), as Willamette grabbed a 5-0 lead.
Whitworth cut the margin to 5-3 in the top of the second. Cody Simmons drove in the first run with a single, while Casey Isa brought in the second run when he bunted into a fielder's choice. The third run scored on a single by Jaxsen Sweum. The Pirates tacked on three additional runs in the third inning to move in front, 6-5. Spencer Locati hit an RBI double, while Simmons provided an RBI single and later scored on a wild pitch.
Neither team scored in the fourth, fifth or sixth innings, but Whitworth plated three runs in the seventh. With one out, Liam Fitzpatrick walked and Locati doubled, putting runners at the corners. Simmons was intentionally walked to load the bases. Isa doubled down the left field line, driving in Fitzpatrick and Locati. Simmons scored on a sacrifice fly by Sweum.
For Whitworth, starting pitcher Ryan Kingma survived the high-scoring first inning and threw 5 1/3 innings overall. He gave up only one hit after allowing five in the first. He struck out four batters with just one walk. Mathew Pulliam tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings and earned two strikeouts, while allowing one hit. Connor Grydtal pitched the ninth inning and struck out one batter.
Willamette starter Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) dropped to 3-1 with the loss. Gilman struck out three batters, while Benjamin Whitten (Jr., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) struck out two and Joey Faudskar (Jr., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) struck out three.
Paguio went 2 of 4 for the Bearcats with a double and a run scored. Bailey, Scanlon, Fischel, Little and Janitz each registered one hit. Locati of Whitworth finished 3 of 5 with three doubles, three runs scored and an RBI. Simmons went 2 of 4, scored twice and earned two RBis. Isa drove in a game-high three runs.
The Bearcats will host Whittier College on Thursday, March 17 at 3 p.m. (PDT), before taking on Whitman College in a three-game Northwest Conference series in Walla Walla, Washington, on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24. Willamette and Whitman will play two games on on Saturday, followed by a single game on Sunday.
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Kyle Paguio opened the bottom of the first inning with a
double near the left field line. His double started a five-run,
five-hit inning for the Bearcats. Paguio scored the game's
first run and finished the game 2 of 4 at the plate.