By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
KEIZER, Ore. -- Willamette University pitchers Nathan Gilman (Jr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS), Liam Keefe (Fr., LHP, Lake Arrowhead, CA/Rim of the World HS) and Joseph Faudskar (So., OF, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) combined on a three-hitter to lead the Bearcats in a 4-2 non-conference victory over Lewis & Clark College at Volcanoes Stadium on Tuesday, March 20. Willamette advanced its record to 13-11 on the season. L&C fell to 5-18 overall.
Gilman started and went 5 1/3 innings to register the win. He is 1-0 on the season. Gilman allowed no runs, two hits and two walks, while recording four strikeouts. Keefe pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up just one hit, but the Pioneers scored two unearned runs. Keefe had one strikeout and no walks. Faudskar tossed the final two innings and did not allow a hit, while earning his first save with four strikeouts and one walk. He also went 2 for 3 at the plate with a run scored.
Faudskar's offensive success was part of a solid night for the Bearcats, who pounded out 10 hits overall. Jack Brett (Sr., C, Aurora, CO/Regis Jesuit HS) was 2 for 2 with a double that stayed in play by hitting about 1 1/2 feet below the top of the right field fence. He also earned two RBIs. Connor Bailey was 2 for 3 with an RBI, while Brendan Natuzzi (So., UT, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) hit a double in four at bats and scored twice.
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in their first at bat. Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) hit a leadoff single to left. One out later, he stole second base. Igarashi then scored on a single down the right field line by Bailey. The play ended with Bailey being thrown out at second while attempting to stretch the hit into a double.
Willamette kept the one-run lead until the bottom of the fourth inning. In the top of the fourth, L&C threatened to score after Sam Helms was hit by pitch to start the stanza, and Matthew Donovan singled with one out. Helms went to third on the single, while Donovan advanced to second on the throw toward third. Michael Contreras walked to load the bases. Gilman caused Sean Shepherd to hit into a 4-3 double play to end the inning.
Natuzzi reached base with two outs in Willamette's half of the fourth on an fielding error at third base. A balk sent Natuzzi to second. Brett's double off the fence allowed Natuzzi to score, giving the Bearcats a 2-0 margin. Willamette increased its lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning with Natuzzi scoring once again. This time, he doubled to left center with one out, and later stole third base. Natuzzi was driven home by Brett, who hit a line drive sacrifice fly to left.
Lewis & Clark scored two unearned runs in the seventh inning to pull within a single run. Tyler Gannon reached base on an error at third to open the inning, but was thrown out at second when Justin Katona hit a fielder's choice to Tyler Janitz (Jr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) at shortstop. Cole Petters doubled to left center to move Katona to third base. Ryan Ericksen hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Katona. Petters scored when Jacob Serafini reached first on a throwing error.
Willamette answered with an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Faudskar singled up the middle, stole second base, and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Igarashi. With the Pioneers pulled in on the infield, Conway provided a single up the middle, allowing Faudskar to score for a 4-2 lead.
Faudskar went to the mound in the eighth inning and pitched effectively to secure the win. He struck out the only three batters he faced in the eighth inning. In the ninth, he forced Gannon to fly out to right center, and then struck out Katona. Petters walked on a full-count pitch, but Faudskar ended the game by getting Ericksen to ground out to second.
The Bearcats will be back in action this weekend with a three-game Northwest Conference series against George Fox University at John Lewis Field. On Saturday, March 24, the Bearcats and the Bruins will play a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). On Sunday, March 25, Willamette and GFU will complete the series with a single game at 12 p.m.