By Jared Spohr
This past weekend, our Bearcat ladies competed in their last series of the season against the Pacific University Boxers. On Friday, Willamette split with Pacific, losing the first and winning the second.
The first game was largely a pitcher’s duel, as Pacific’s Ashley Martin provided a complete game, limiting the Bearcats to only four hits. For the Bearcats, starting pitcher Jade Smith turned in a strong performance as well, allowing only five hits in nearly six innings. Darian Gibson had a great day at the plate, going three for three. However, the effort wasn’t enough to squeeze out a win.
The second game saw an offensive surge for Willamette in the top of the seventh as senior Alex Shields poked a two-run triple with two outs to start a rally. Gibson followed up by smacking an RBI double. Willamette’s surge saw three runs score, and they went on to take the second game by a score of 3-1. Reanna Lancaster and Jocelyn Glasgo pitched well for the Bearcats in this one, allowing a total of only four hits.
Saturday saw the Bearcats’ season come to a close, and with it six seniors — Mallory Asaro, Steffany Dunn, Makayla Hari, Alexia Pratt, Alex Shields, and Jade Smith — put on the Bearcat uniform for the last time. Asaro went 2-for-4 with a dinger, a run and three RBI’s. Gibson was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Pacific’s offense surged from the start of the opener, as the Boxers managed to put up five runs in the first inning. Asaro blasted a solo shot over the centerfield fence in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the fifth Willamette started a small rally that saw hits by Vanessa Almaraz, Gibson, and Asaro that scored four runs. With the score at 11-5, the Boxers were able to shut down the Bearcats’ offense for the remainder of the game.
Congratulations on excellent careers from the seniors and a hard fought season by the Bearcats.
Bearcat baseball was back in action again this weekend for the last series of the season at John Lewis Field, playing a three-game series against Lewis & Clark.
The first game included an outstanding pitching performance from sophomore Matt Steindorf, who threw a complete game, striking out eight and walking zero. Willamette struggled against Lewis & Clark starting pitcher Robert Reaser, who lasted 8.2 innings before Willamette provided an answer. The rally was started by Perry Van Eckhardt’s base hit to right field. Mason Fessler came to the plate after and blasted a homer that cut their lead to one run. After another out, Connor Bailey drilled a triple, but then scored after a wild throw to the relay-man went out of play. With the score tied at 3-3 Steindorf shut down the Pios in the top of the ninth. Cameron Igarashi led off the bottom of the inning by poking a base knock up the middle. Aaron Fong followed up with a bunt in which an error caused him to reach first safely. After both runners completed a double steal, Mason Fessler came through with a sacrifice fly, in which Van Eckhardt scored, completing the walk-off victory.
On Saturday, the opening game saw Willamette rally from behind to walk-off again. Crazy to think about is the fact that this was the 11th game of the season that our boys have won by one run this season. The walkoff win also meant that it is the sixth in-conference walkoff victory. In the bottom of the sixth inning hits by Eric Del Prado, Connor Bailey and Cole Pursell scored two. After trading hits and runs, the score was knotted heading into the ninth inning. Van Eckhardt drove in Tyler Janitz for the win in the bottom of the ninth. Jett Gallagher finessed yet another win, and Brandon Nelson turned in a stellar pitching performance, allowing only fivehits and one run through seven innings, while striking out five.
In the final regular-season game for both teams, Willamette took a healthy lead in the fifth inning to pull away from Lewis & Clark. Starter Benjamin Whitten gave an excellent performance, allowing five hits and ringing up four. Junior Troy Conway went 2-for-4 with a homer, two runs and four RBI’s. Fong was 2-of-4 with a run scored, and Fessler put up two hits, including a double and an RBI. Conway’s home run was followed by Van Eckhardt’s blast to go back-to-back with the dingers.
Because of a Linfield win, Willamette earned second overall in the NWC standings. This season saw the most wins since the 2001 team that won the conference title, going 18-6. However, the Bearcats aren’t done yet. They take on No. 3 Pacific Lutheran on Friday, April 21 at Roy Helser Field in McMinnville, Oregon. Come out and support your Bearcats as they battle the Lutes!