Willamette’s bats carried them to a three-game sweep against George Fox University (GFU) on Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14. The Bearcats amassed 47 hits over the weekend and put up 27 runs in the convincing win. Senior outfielder Connor Bailey set the school record for career hits with 206. Senior pitcher Matt Steindorf set the school record for career wins with 31 after the final game of the series on Sunday.
In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, junior Justin Scanlon launched a two-run home run to take the lead in the top of the first inning. GFU’s Matt Voelzke answered back with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. Bailey helped WU get back to the two-run lead with a sacrifice fly that brought home senior Kyle Paguio. In the top of the fifth inning, the Bearcats ran away with the game, scoring four runs. Senior Sam Hudd hit a two-run double down the left field line, bringing home senior Brendan Natuzzi and senior Cole Pursell. Junior Joseph Faudskar brought Hudd home with a double that was also hit to left field. GFU was unable to keep up with the consistency of WU’s offense and lost 10-4.
The second game was largely dominated by WU as the Bearcats breezed past GFU, 9-1. Bailey went four-for-five while scoring three times. Scanlon also went four-for-five while amassing four runs batted in (RBI). Senior Tyler Janitz, Faudskar, Pursell and Natuzzi all had two hits in this game.
The Bearcats wasted no time, scoring three runs in the top of the first and second inning for an early 6-0 lead. Janitz walked to start the game and scored on Bailey’s double to left field. Scanlon tripled to right center to bring Bailey home. Scanlon later scored on a wild pitch. In the top of the second, Janitz doubled to right center and brought home Faudskar who reached first on a single and moved to second by stealing. Janitz scored on a wild pitch. Scanlon drove Bailey home with a single to left field.
GFU’s one run came in the sixth inning on a home run by Matt Ramirez. Willamette tacked on two more runs in the seventh with Scanlon’s solo home run and a bases-loaded beamed batter thatforced Natuzzi home. Scanlon finished the day with a single to right field which brought home Bailey, who doubled to right field.
The final game of the series was much more tightly contested than the previous games. Nevertheless, the Bearcats came out on top, 8-5. WU took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to Scanlon, who hit a two-run home run, driving home Janitz, who started the game with a single. GFU scored one run in the bottom of the second but WU answered back in the top of the third with Scanlon hitting a single to left field and bringing home Janitz, who walked to get on base. GFU tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, 3-3, but WU came back with two runs in the fifth and one run in the sixth to take a commanding three-run lead. It was Scanlon once again who hit an RBI single to bring home none other than Janitz. Natuzzi singled up the middle to bring Bailey home. Sophomore Tyler Vandemark scored Paguio, who doubled to left field to get on base, on a sacrifice bunt. GFU tacked on two runs, one in the bottom of the seventh and bottom of the ninth, but WU’s insurance runs in the top of the eighth sealed the deal.
The baseball team moved to 13-8 overall and 16-13 in the Northwest Conference (NWC). The team now sits at second place under Whitworth University. The Bearcats will finish their regular season off against Pacific Lutheran University, who is ranked fifth in the NWC. The games will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20 at WU’s home field. The game on Friday is set to start at 3:00 p.m. (PST).
Photo Caption: Senior Matt Steindorf broke the Willamette record for career wins with 31 after the team’s win against GFU on Saturday, April 13.
Credit: Chris Sabato