By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) of Willamette University smacked a solo home run off the Chuck Bafaro Stadium scoreboard in left field to complete a five-run second inning for the Bearcats in a 15-5 triumph over Pacific University on Sunday, Feb. 25. The win evened Willamette's record at 7-7, including 3-3 in the Northwest Conference. The Bearcats won the three-game series, 2-1. Pacific dropped to 8-6 on the season, 4-2 in the NWC.
Willamette scored one run in the first inning and held a 6-0 advantage after two innings. Prior to Bailey's home run, Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) connected for a solo homer with one out in the second inning and Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) blasted a three-run homer to right field with two outs. The Bearcats added five runs in the third stanza for an 11-0 lead.
The Bearcats finished the game with a 13-10 margin in hits, but eight of Willamette's hits went for extra bases, while the Boxers hit eight singles and two doubles. Van Eckhardt topped the chart with three extra bases hits, as he pounded out two doubles in addition to his home run.
Van Eckhardt's first double was earned one out into the game. Bailey followed with a walk. One out later, both runners contributed to a double-steal, before Van Eckhardt crossed the plate on a wild pitch. A ground out ended the threat.
The three homers in the second inning kept the offensive surge going for the Bearcats. In the third inning, Willamette continued to score, creating its second five-run explosion on four hits and three walks -- all with two outs. Brett and Tyler Janitz (Jr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) hit back-to-back singles to start the string of plays. Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) batted next and drove in Brett with a double. Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) walked to force in Janitz. Walks to Van Eckhardt and Bailey brought home the next two runs, before Del Prado completed the inning with a two-run single to left field.
Pacific scored twice in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut the lead to 11-2. A walk, a single and a hit batsman loaded the bases. Ryan Krout belted a two-run double to left field. After Krout's double, runners were at second and third with one out. Krout was picked off at second. Austin Amudson walked to place runners at the corners, but Derek Ridgway hit a line drive caught by Del Prado at first base for the third out.
Willamette responded with two runs of its own in the top of the fifth. Conway reached base on an error, while Van Eckhardt and Bailey each drove in one run with a double during the inning. The Boxers tallied two runs in the bottom of the fifth, with both runs scoring on a double by Dylan Wright. Willamette held a 13-4 lead.
Del Prado tacked on a two-run double for the Bearcats in the seventh inning. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Pacific put together two singles and a walk before Jacob Vice sent home the final run with a single to right.
Brandon Nelson (Jr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) started on the mound and threw seven innings for the Bearcats. He picked up the win to move to 2-2. He allowed seven hits and four runs, while striking out four batters and giving up three walks. Jett Gallagher (Sr., RHP, Santa Cruz, CASanta Cruz HS) pitched the next 1 2/3 innings and Liam Keefe (Fr., LHP, Lake Arrowhead, CA/Rim of the World HS) recorded the final out. Pacific used five pitchers. Starter Trevor Quinn fell to 1-1 after allowing five runs on three hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings.
Van Eckhardt was 3 for 3 at the plate with five runs and five RBIs, while hitting a home run and two doubles. He also walked once and reached base on catcher's interference. Del Prado went 3 of 6 with a double and four RBIs. Bailey, Brett and Janitz each supplied two hits. Bailey drove in three runs, while Igarashi and Conway scored three runs apiece.
Derek Legeza was 2 for 2 with two runs for Pacific. Anderson went 2 of 4 and scored one run. Wright and Krout each hit a double and registered two RBIs.
Willamette is scheduled to host a three-game Northwest Conference series against Whitworth University on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4. First pitch in Saturday's doubleheader is set for 11 a.m. (PST). Action in the single game on Sunday is slated to start at 12 p.m.