By Jared Spohr
This past weekend, Bearcat baseball took on the Linfield Wildcats to open conference play. After an excellent performance by junior starting pitcher Matt Steindorf and some hot bats, the men held on to win the first game with a score of 5-3. In the second game, Linfield held an 18-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning until the game was eventually postponed because of darkness. After going 1-2 on the weekend, their overall record fell to 5-6 overall, 1-2 in the NWC.
The first game featured some excellent offense on both ends. In the second inning, senior Jack Brett scored the game’s first run after junior Tyler Janitz poked a single into right center, putting Willamette on the board. Steindorf then tossed two more shutout innings, stranding several Linfield runners on base in the process. In the top of the fourth, Linfield tied the score after a weak hit resulting in a throwing error that scored their runner from second base.
The Bearcats executed well in the fifth inning. Janitz got on base first with a single, and then senior Troy Conway layed down a nice sacrifice bunt to get him into scoring position. Janitz then advanced to third when Cameron Igarashi got a hit. Willamette senior Eric Del Prado then smacked a single up the middle that scored Janitz and gave the Bearcats the lead back.
To start the sixth, senior Jack Brett crushed the first pitch he saw over the fence in right for a solo homer, killing the mood for every Linfield fan at the John.
With a 3-1 lead in the seventh, senior Perry Van Eckhardt layed down a sac bunt to move Igarashi to second. Junior Connor Bailey came to the plate.
After falling into a quick 0-2 hole, Bailey went oppo-taco to give the Bearcats a 5-1 lead going into the eighth.
After Linfield started a minor comeback, Steindorf was removed in the top of the ninth after throwing over 148 pitches. Freshman Brandon Murillo sealed the deal with a strikeout to end the game and earned his second save of the season.
The second game of the day was not completed on Saturday due to darkness, as Willamette couldn’t mitigate the damage after a 12 run eighth inning.
The Bearcats and junior starting pitcher Ben Whitten held the Wildcats to 1 run going into the top of the fifth. They went on to score five runs in the sixth and had that big inning in the eighth.
Willamette’s lone run came when sophomore Joey Faudskar poked a single in the fifth, and was knocked in by a Del Prado double.
The third game of the series is fairly simple when it comes to reporting. Linfield starter Carter Buck threw a one hitter complete game against the Bearcats, with a final score of 3-0.
Willamette starter Brandon Nelson, despite giving up nine hits and walking three, limited the damage. He only surrendered three earned runs in the contest. Relief pitchers Harbour Harrison and Jett Gallagher kept Linfield off the board over the final three innings.
Del Prado recorded the boys’ only hit of the day.
Their next series kicks off against Pacific University this coming Saturday.