Powered by several home runs and stellar pitching, the Willamette baseball team won two out of three games this past weekend in the series against Puget Sound University (PSU). The first game was utterly noncompetitive from start to finish, with the Bearcat offense logging 13 runs while senior Matt Steindorf pitched a shutout. Steindorf pitched seven full innings, allowing five hits, surrendering zero walks and recording seven strikeouts. Senior Nolan Boggini and sophomore Jason Snare each pitched an inning in relief of Steindorf, closing the doors on PSU to the tune of one hit allowed, zero runs surrendered and three strikeouts. With the win, Steindorf moved into second in the WU leaderboard for all-time wins as a pitcher.
There were plenty of offensive stars for Willamette. Most notably, senior Connor Bailey went three for three with a single, a triple and a home run. Additionally, he accounted for five runs, five runs batted-in (RBIs), two walks, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly. Bailey was involved in a whopping 77 percent of Willamette’s run total. His home run in the third inning allowed both him and junior Joey Faudskar to score, increasing the lead to 3-0. Willamette slowly put the game away with one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Another significant offensive contributor was senior Cole Pursell, who recorded two doubles, a run and two RBIs. Pursell opened the scoring in the first inning with a double, which allowed Bailey to score and closed the scoring in the ninth with another double that brought Bailey home.
In the second game, the Bearcats didn’t have as much luck, as the Loggers scored seven runs in the first inning and tacked on five more by the fourth. WU scored a run in the second and fourth innings but could not overcome the deficit, 12-2. The game’s first six innings were played on Saturday afternoon before the game was suspended due to darkness. The game continued Sunday morning, but the score held and Willamette lost, 12-2. Puget Sound out hit Willamette 12-11, but the Bearcats’ 15 runners left on base led to their lack of runs.
The final game of the weekend series was more competitive than the previous two. The Bearcats rebounded well from their morning loss with four home runs and 10 runs scored in the 10-5 victory. Bailey opened the scoring with a solo home run in the first inning. He ended the day with three runs and two hits. With a 3-0 lead by the fifth inning, Pursell whacked his first home run of the game, sending both him and Bailey to home plate. To increase the lead to 5-0, first-year Eric Waldichuk made the deciding play of the game later that same inning. With fellow first-year Ethan Fischel and junior Justin Scanlon on base, Waldichuk smashed Willamette’s third home run of the game, pushing the Bearcats to an insurmountable 8-0 lead. Pursell hit another home run in the sixth inning, this one solo, in what at that point was looking to be a complete rout.
However, Puget Sound put up some resistance in the seventh inning, cutting the lead in half. The Loggers used three hits, three walks and a wild pitch to score five runs in the inning. However, the comeback was not meant to be, as PSU was unable to continue their momentum in either the eighth or ninth inning. Scanlon’s double in the ninth inning allowed Bailey to score, which was the final run in the 10-5 victory.
Willamette recorded 15 hits on the day. Despite only recording four hits fewer in the previous game, the team was able to score eight more runs. Powered by their home runs, the Bearcats stranded fewer runners on base than they had the previous day, which proved the cure to their offensive woes. Willamette’s next game will be against Lewis & Clark, at home for the first time this season, in the first of a three-game weekend series. The first pitch will be thrown on Saturday, March 2 at 11 a.m. (PST).