By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Eric Del Prado (Jr., INF, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) of Willamette University hit a single to left center with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to drive home Cameron Igarashi (Jr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) with the winning run, as the Bearcats defeated Whitman College, 4-3, in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday, March 12. Willamette also won the second game, 6-1.
The doubleheader completed a four-game series between the Bearcats and the Blues at Roy Helser Field on the Linfield College campus. The games were moved to Linfield's artificial turf facility due to wet grounds at John Lewis Field in Salem, Oregon.
Willamette won two of three games in the Northwest Conference portion of the series, which included both games on Saturday, March 11 and the first game on Sunday. The fourth contest was a non-conference game.
The Bearcats are 14-6 overall and 9-3 in the NWC. Willamette is second in the NWC standings behind Pacific Lutheran University (10-2). Whitman ended the weekend at 9-9 overall, 4-4 in the NWC.
Del Prado's RBI Gives WU Second Straight Extra-Inning Win
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Bearcats defeated Whitman 4-3 in an extra-inning game. On Saturday, Willamette edged the Blues, 4-3, on a leadoff homer by Cole Pursell (So., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) in the bottom of the 14th inning. On Sunday, Del Prado's winning hit led to a similar results in 10 innings.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Igarashi singled to center field. He advanced to second on a balk. Tyler Janitz (So., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) then hit a ball that the pitcher fielded. Igarashi was caught between bases. He survived the run-down, but Janitz was tagged out after both runners ended the play at second base.
Del Prado batted next and fell behind in the count with two strikes. On the third pitch, he sent the ball into left center, allowing Igarashi to score the game-winning run.
Willamette scored one run in both the second inning and third inning to take a 2-0 lead. In the second, Tyler Esquivel (Jr., RF, Filmore, CA/Filmore HS) walked. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Janitz and reached third on a ground out by Del Prado. Kyle Paguio (So., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) hit an infield single to shortstop to drive in Esquivel.
In the third inning, the Bearcats registered four hits with one out, but scored just one run. Connor Bailey (So., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) provided the first hit with a triple to right field. Jack Brett (Jr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) followed with a single to move Bailey across the plate. Mason Fessler (Jr., INF, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) and Esquivel also singled, but Whitman starter Eric Ma left the bases loaded with a strikeout and a ground out.
The Blues tallied their first run in the top of the fourth. Brett Williams, who received a walk to start the inning, scored from second with two outs after an infield single toward shortstop by Lucas Thrun. Williams went to third on the hit and scored on a throwing error at the end of the play.
WU countered with a run in the bottom of the fourth for a 3-1 lead. Paguio singled to open the stanza. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt from Perry Van Eckhardt (Jr., OF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS), reached third on another ground out, and scored on a single through the left side by Bailey.
Whitman cut the margin to 3-2 with a run in the top of the sixth. Anthony Lim connected for a leadoff single and eventually scored. The Blues earned three hits during the inning, but left the bases loaded when Van Eckhardt made a diving catch in center field for the third out.
In the top of the ninth, the Blues plated one run to tie the game. Jake Wishart was hit by a pitch to begin the frame. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Williams, and went to third on a wild pitch. Lim hit a foul ball that Del Prado caught near first base for the second out. Wishart scored on a wild pitch while Joesph Zimmer was batting.
Zimmer was hit by a pitch and Adrian Vela walked. The inning ended with runners at first and second after Van Eckhardt charged forward and made a diving catch on a ball hit into left center by Thrun.
WU starter Nathan Gilman (So., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) pitched five innings and allowed just two hits and one unearned run. Brendan Natuzzi (So., UT, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS), who pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, received the win and is now 1-1.
Bailey finished 3 of 4 for the Bearcats with a triple, a run and an RBI. Paguio was 2 for 4 with a run scored and one RBI. Del Prado went 2 for 5 with the game-winning RBI. The Bearcats outhit the Blues, 11-7. Thrun earned two hits in four at bats, and was the only Whitman player with more than one hit.
Bearcats Register 12 Hits in Non-Conference Win over Blues
In the second game of Sunday's doubleheader, the Bearcats accumulated 12 hits on their way to a 6-1 win. Whitman managed just five hits.
Three Bearcat pitchers, Mason Cook (Fr., RHP, Riverton, UT/Riverton HS), Dawson Enright (Fr., RHP, La Mesa, CA/James Madison HS) and Nolan Boggini (So., RHP, El Dorado Hills, CA/Oak Ridge HS) combined for the win. Cook pitched three innings, Enright went four innings, and Boggini tossed the final two stanzas.
Cook (1-0) received the victory. He allowed one run and three hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Enright gave up just one hit to go along with one strikeout in four innings. Boggini allowed one hit and three walks, but kept Whitman off the scoreboard to record his first save.
The Blues scored once in the first inning. Zimmer singled up the middle with two outs. He went to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a single by Vela.
Willamette surged into a 3-1 lead with three runs in the second inning.
Pursell singled to open the frame. Harbour Harrison (So., UT, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) followed with a sacrifice bunt, and then Aaron Fong (Jr., INF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) was hit by a pitch. Natuzzi sent Pursell and Fong across the plate with a double into the right field corner. Natuzzi, who played second base during the game, scored one out later on a single by Janitz.
The Bearcats added an insurance run in the sixth inning and tacked on two runs in the eighth to earn the final margin. Fessler singled with no outs in the sixth and scored on a double down the left field line by Del Prado. In the eighth, Pursell and Fong each hit an RBI double. Del Prado doubled earlier in the inning and scored on Pursell's hit.
Del Prado contributed a 2-for-4 performance with two doubles, a run and an RBI. Pursell and Joseph Faudskar (Fr., OF, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) also went 2 for 4, with Pursell adding two runs and an RBI. Fong was 2 for 3 with a run scored and one RBI. Five Whitman players each had one hit.
Up Next for Willamette
The Bearcats are scheduled to play four games in California next weekend, starting with one game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Friday, March 17. Willamette will continue the road trip with one game at California Lutheran University on Saturday, March 18, and a doubleheader against Occidental College on Sunday, March 19.