By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- It was an outstanding summer for players on the Willamette University baseball team who competed in summer leagues between the spring and fall semesters. The Bearcats are back on campus now and are ready for fall practice as well as regular season play next spring. Earlier this year, the Bearcats achieved a 28-14 overall record and went 18-6 in the Northwest Conference (2nd place). WU qualified for its first ever NWC Tournament berth and advanced to the championship game before falling to Linfield College and finishing as the runner-up.
A total of 15 returning Bearcats played on summer league teams over the past three months. Nine Willamette players competed at field positions over the summer, while six Bearcats pitched for their respective teams.
"Summer baseball is a great opportunity for our players to improve their skills, play against high caliber competition, and to experience new parts of the country," Willamette Head Baseball Coach Aaron Swick said. "The success our players had will be instrumental in continuing to elevate our program."
There were many great statistical accomplishments this summer. Leading the way among the field players were two Bearcats who played for the Hornell Dodgers in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL). The Bearcats in Hornell were Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) and Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS). Hornell achieved a 30-12 record.
Brett and Bailey helped Hornell win the NYCBL regular season title as well as the NYCBL championship playoffs by defeating the Syrcause Spartans two games to one in the championship series. Bailey, who pounded out eight hits in the three games, was named Championship Series Co-MVP. Brett and Bailey were both chosen as NYCBL Co-Players of the Year for their quality play throughout the season. Both competed in the NYCBL All-Star Game.
For the season, Brett hit .399 to lead the NYCBL in batting average. He recorded a league-high 57 hits in 143 bats, while playing in 39 games for the Dodgers. He ranked second in the league with 38 RBis and also tied for second with seven home runs. He tied for third with eight hit by pitches. Brett pounded out nine doubles and one triple. He scored 25 runs, walked 18 times and stole seven bases.
Bailey ranked first in the NYCBL with 154 at bats and 41 RBIs, and was second with 56 hits. He also held second place in the league with 43 runs scored and tied for second with seven home runs. In addition, he tied for eighth with 11 doubles. He as 13 for 17 on stolen bases, walked 23 times, and connected for three triples.
Eric Pachowicz (So., INF, Camarillo, CA/Rio Mesa HS) played on the infield for the Ventura County Buccaneers. Stats were not available for nine contests, but in the other games Pachowicz earned a .196 batting average in 61 at bats. He earned two doubles and two triples on his way to a .314 slugging percentage. He also walked 10 times and recorded a .323 on-base percentage.
Cole Pursell (Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) competed as a catcher for the Utica Blue Sox (N.Y.) in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL). He earned 33 hits in 110 at bats for a solid .300 batting average. He provided the Blue Sox with 11 doubles and one home run. He accumulated 21 RBIs during the season.
It was a busy summer for Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/homeLoyola HS), who competed for the Willmar Stingers (Minn.) in the Northwoods League and later played for the San Diego Waves in the Western Baseball Association. Del Prado played in 11 games for Willmar and hit .200 with six hits in 20 at bats. He blasted one double and one home run. In San Diego, he batted .274 with 20 hits in 73 at bats. He pounded out five doubles, on triple and one home run for the Waves.
For the Denver Titans in the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League (MHCBL), Sam Hudd (Jr./So., UT, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) batted .281 with 18 hits in 64 at bats. He scored 12 run, while hiitting six doubles and one triple. He registered 13 RBIs.
Brendan Natuzzi (Jr., INF, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) and Kyle Paguio (Jr., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) were infielders for the Solano Mudcats (Calif.). Natuzzi earned a .333 batting average. He contributed 25 hits in 75 at bats, while scoring 19 runs. He scored eight runs and stole nine bases. Paguio hit .224 on 15 hits in 67 at bats. He scored 10 runs, supplied 14 RBIs and stole eight bases. Three of his hits were doubles.
Harbour Harrison (Jr., UT, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) was a member of the Alameda Seals. Statistics were not available for the Seals.
Three Bearcat pitchers played for the Lincoln Potters (Calif.) in the Great West League. Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) went 1-2 with a 4.65 earned run average. He struck out 24 batters and had just six walks in 31 innings pitched. Nathan Gilman (Jr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) registered a 4.68 ERA over 25 innings on the mound. He claimed a 3-0 record with 15 strikeouts. Nolan Boggini (Jr., RHP, El Dorado Hills, CA/Oak Ridge HS) pitched 48 1/3 innings and was credited with an 8.01 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
Benjamin Whitten (So., RHP, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) competed for the California Bees as a pitcher in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League (GSCBL). He finished the season with a 4.50 ERA in 40 innings pitched. He recorded an impressive 48 strikeouts, while allowing 14 walks. He went 1-2 for the Bees and earned one save.
The San Diego Sharks benefited from the pitching of Dawson Enright (So., RHP, La Mesa, CA/James Madison HS) as they competed in the San Diego Coastal Collegiate League (SDCCL). Enright provided the team with a 3-0 win-loss record to go along with a solid 3.15 ERA. He threw 45 2/3 innings and struck out 32 opposing batters.
Mason Cook (So., RHP, Riverton, UTRiverton HS) pitched 20 innings of the Salem Capitols in the Oregon Collegiate Baseball League (OCBL). He was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Cook struck out 14 batters.
NOTE: Eligibility year listed for each player is for the 2018 Willamette University season.