By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
SALEM, Ore. -- Pacific University scored three runs in the first inning and then held off the Willamette University Bearcats for a 5-4 non-conference win on Tuesday, March 27 at John Lewis Field. Willamette had the bases loaded with the tying run at third and the potential winning run at second when the game ended. Pacific improved to 12-15 on the season. Willamette fell to 15-13.
Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CA/Loyola HS) belted a solo homer to right field to lead off the eighth inning. It was his fourth home run of the season. Del Prado added a sacrifice fly to drive home Joseph Faudskar (So., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) in the ninth, but the Bearcats were unable to push across the tying run. Faudskar was 2 for 5 and scored two runs for the Bearcats. He also stole a base. In addition to driving in two runs, Del Prado was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
"We pitched out of some jams and had chances to score, but ultimately we came up short," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "All in all it was a quality baseball game."
Pacific outhit Willamette 11-4. Dustin Meyer was 2 for 2 with two runs scored. Joey Galeno and Derek Ridgway each went 2 of 4 with double, a run and an RBI. Derek Wright also hit a double for the Boxers.
In the top of the first, Pacific placed several hits just barely in fair territory. Leadoff batter Derek Legeza started the trend by hitting a single down the right field line. One out later, Galeno registered a base hit that passed near third base and went down the left field line, sending Legeza to third. Ridgway belted a double down the right field line to bring in Legeza with the game's first score. Aaron Alexander continued the trend with what appeared to be a two-run double down the right field line.
Two runs did score, but Alexander went to second without touching first base and was thrown out 9-4-3. WU starter Nathan Gilman (Jr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/ Diamond Ranch HS) struck out Trevor Quinn to end the inning.
Willamette cut the margin to 3-1 in the bottom of the first. With one out, Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CAMoorpark HS) singled up the middle and Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CAScripps Ranch HS) walked. Del Prado also walked, loading the bases. Brendan Natuzzi (So., 3B/P, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) hit into a fielder's choice that brought Conway across the plate, while Del Prado was thrown out at second. A fly out to left center by Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) ended the threat.
The Bearcats turned three double plays on defense. The first was recorded in the second inning. With runners at second at third and one out, Legeza lined out at second to start a 4-6 double play, as Dustin Meyer was unable to return quickly enough to second base. Willamette left two runners on base in the bottom of the second after Kyle Underwood (Fr., C, Highland, CA/Citrus Valley HS) and Aaron Fong (Sr., SS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) walked with one out. The inning ended with consecutive fly outs.
WU's second double play was early in the fourth inning. Quinn walked and then Dallas Chung hit the ball toward shortstop. Fong started a 6-4-3 double play. Gilman struck out Max Nealon on a 3-2 pitch for the third out.
Pacific increased its lead to 4-1 when Galeno pounded a double to right field with two outs and Meyer at first base in the fifth inning. Willamette picked up a run in the bottom of the stanza, as Faudskar hit a leadoff single, stole second base, went to third on a ground out by Conway and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Bailey.
The Boxers added an insurance run in the seventh. Meyer hit a bunt single toward third with one out. He went to second on a ground out by Legeza and crossed the plate when Wright followed with an RBI double.
A double play by Pacific kept Willamette from scoring in the seventh. The Bearcats had Cole Slater (Fr., C, Encino, CA/Campbell Hall HS) at third, Joseph Faudskar (So., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) at second and Conway at first following two errors with one out. Bailey lined out to Ridgway near third base. Ridgway quickly touched the bag to double off Slater.
Willamette kept the score at 5-1 in the top of the eighth, thanks in part of the Bearcats' third double play. With one out and Alexander at third and Quinn at first, Von Ferguson sent the ball toward shortstop. Fong grabbed the ball to begin a 6-4-3 double play.
Del Prado's solo homer run pulled the Bearcats within 5-3 in the eighth, and Willamette nearly completed the comeback in the ninth. Faudskar singled to center with one out, and then Conway and Bailey both walked. Del Prado provided a sacrifice fly to right field to send Faudskar across the plate. Natuzzi walked to reload the bases. Igarashi flied out to second base for the final out.
The Bearcats will return to Northwest Conference play with a three-game series at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31. The Bearcats and the Lutes will play one game on Friday at 12 p.m. (PDT). The teams are scheduled to complete the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, also starting at 12 p.m.