By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Willamette University left fielder Connor Bailey (Jr., San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) blasted a pair of two-run homers against Lewis & Clark College on Sunday, April 15, leading the Bearcats to a 12-4 win over the Pioneers and giving Bailey five home runs during the three-game series. The game ended after six innings due to the weather. Bailey batted .538 for the weekend with seven runs scored and 10 RBIs. He achieved a 1.769 slugging percentage.
Bailey increased his season total to 13 home runs, placing him in a tie for third on Willamette's all-time list. Tony Barron also smacked 13 home runs for the Bearcats in 1987. Bailey's career total moved to 19 home runs, good for seventh all-time at Willamette.
For the game, Bailey was 2 of 4 with his two homers, four RBIs, a walk and two runs scored. Including Bailey, Willamette's top five hitters in the batting order were a combined 11 of 18 for a .611 batting average during the game.
Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) finished 3 of 5 with a double, two runs and one RBI. Sean Little (Fr., 2B, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) went 3 of 4, recorded his second double in as many days, drove in three runs and scored twice. Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) was 2 of 4 with an RBI, while Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) went 1 of 2 at the plate.
Willamette's 13-hit attack also included one hit each from Mason Fessler (Sr., DHINF, Woodburn, ORBlanchet Catholic School) and Ben Setlak (Fr., RF, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS). Fessler scored once and earned one RBI. Setlak walked once and scored twice.
"It was another quality day on offense," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick commented. "Connor (Bailey) is locked in on his game ... five home runs in three games is impressive. The team is really confident going into next weekend (NWC Baseball Tournament)."
Willamette improved to 23-14 on the season, 15-9 in the NWC. The Bearcats went 10-2 over their final 12 regular season NWC games. Lewis & Clark completed its season with a 9-30 record, 5-19 in the NWC.
The Bearcats will join regular season champion Pacific Lutheran University (18-6), Linfield College (15-8), and either George Fox University (13-11) or Whitman College (12-11) in the 2018 NWC Baseball Tournament, set for April 20-22 in Tacoma, Washington. Linfield and Whitman were rained out on Sunday. The result of that game will determine if GFU or Whitman earns the fourth and final seed in the tournament. Also, Linfield will be alone in second place if the Wildcats defeat the Blues, while a loss by the Wildcats would put Linfield in a tie for second with Willamette.
Van Eckhardt singled up the middle to start the game. He scored two batters later when Bailey smacked his first home run of the day to left center. The 2-0 lead held until the bottom of the second inning. Connor Eggleston doubled near the left field line and then Kevin Jacobs singled to left, sending Eggleston to third. Zach Merzlak hit an RBI double to right. Jacobs tied the game later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Serafini.
Willamette regained a two-run cushion at 4-2 in the top of the third on a Bailey's second home run. Sean Little (Fr., INF, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) hit an infield single to shorstop to open the inning and Bailey followed by sending the ball over the left field fence. Little expanded the margin to 6-2 in the fourth with a two-run double.
The Bearcats left three runners on base in the third inning, but scored six times in the fifth stanza to pull away.
With the bases loaded on a hit batsman and two walks, Kyle Paguio (Jr., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) hit into an error that allowed him to reach base while Mason Fessler (Sr., DH/INF, Woodburn, OR/Blanchet Catholic School) and Ben Setlak (Fr., OF, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) scored. Van Eckhardt drove in Tyler Janitz (Jr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) with a double to left, and Little hit a single to bring home Paguio.
One out later, Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) hit an RBI single to right. With two outs, Fessler drove in a run with a single to left. The Bearcats owned a 12-2 lead.
Lewis & Clark loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Relief pitcher Nathan Gilman (Jr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) struck out the first batter he faced and got out of the inning with only two runners scoring. Jacobs, who singled and scored the second run, ended the day 3 for 3 with two runs scored. Eggleston was 2 for 3 with a double and scored twice.
WU starter Brandon Nelson (Jr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) pitched five innings. He allowed eight hits and four runs, while recording five strikeouts and two walks. Nelson upped his record to 6-5 on the season.