Bailey Smacks Grand Slam to Break 4-4 tie, as Bearcats Defeat Lutes, 8-6

Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS)
Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

TACOMA, Wash. -- Connor Bailey (Jr., LF, San Di ego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) of Willamette University hit a grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie and give the Bearcats an 8-4 lead on their way to an 8-6 victory over Pacific Lutheran University on Friday, March 30 at PLU Field. It was Bailey's seventh home run of the season and the 14th of his career.

The Lutes scored two runs in the eighth inning, but Willamette releiver Joseph Faudskar (So., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) faced just three batters in the ninth to secure his second save. Faudskar walked Connor Cantu to start the ninth, before getting Anthony Gosline to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Jacob Bockelie fouled out to Bailey in left field to end the game.

WU starter Matt Steindorf (Jr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) pitched seven innings and improved to 6-3 with the win. PLU reliever Alex Gregory dropped to 4-1 with the loss.

The Bearcats are 16-13 on the season, 8-8 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific Lutheran fell to 17-9 overall, 15-3 in the NWC. The teams will complete the three-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 31 starting at 12 p.m. (PDT).

"Steindorf gave us a great effort on the mound," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "We got three big double plays on defense. We had lot of guys on base, and Bailey had a huge swing in the eighth."

The Lutes scored one run in the first inning and Willamette tied the score with a run in the third. For PLU, Cantu walked to start the bottom of the first. One out later, Bockelie also walked, sending Cantu to second. Cole Jojnson singled up the middle to drive in Cantu. The Bearcats got out of the inning without further damage as Marques Carlson hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

For WU in the third, Aaron Fong (Sr., SS, Honolulu, HIPunahou School) and Faudskar hit back-to-back singles. Fong was thrown out trying to reach third on Faudskar's hit. Faudskar advanced to second on the throw. With two outs, Bailey received a walk, and then Eric Del Prado (Sr., 1B, El Segundo, CALoyola HS) singled through the left side. Faudskar scored, but Bailey was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Pacific Lutheran plated two runs in the fourth for a 3-1 advantage. Johnson singled to start the inning. He scored when Carlson followed with a double near the left field line. Later, Carlson scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Stump with the bases loaded and no outs. Tori Doten grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

The Baarcats surged into a 4-3 lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. WU took advantage of two hits and two errors -- all with two outs -- to produce the runs. Perry Van Eckhardt (Sr., CF, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) and Cameron Igarashi (Sr., RF, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) smacked consecutive singles. Igarashi's hit to right was misplayed, allowing Van Eckhardt to score and Igarashi to reach third. Fong walked and later stole second. Faudskar reached base on a throwing error from third, as Igarashi and Fong scored on the play.

In the bottom of the sixth, Johnson hit a leadoff single up the middle and Carlson singled through the right side. Max Cummings advanced the runners with a sacrfice bunt. Carlson crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to center by Matt Vick to create a 4-4 tie.

Neither team scored in the seventh, but Willamette loaded the bases in the top of the eighth on a single by Igarashi with one out, plus a walk by Fong, and a walk issued to Troy Conway (Sr., 2B, Moorpark, CA/Moorpark HS) with two outs. Bailey crushed the ball over the left field field for a grand slam and an 8-4 Willamette lead.

Vick and Stump each belted an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth for PLU, but the Bearcats kept a two-run lead. Faudskar and Willamette's third double play kept the Lutes off the scoreboard despite a leadoff walk in the ninth.

Igarashi was 2 of 4 with two runs scored for the Bearcats. Van Eckhardt and Faudskar each went 2 of 5 and scored one run. Del Pado was 2 for 5 with and RBI. Bailey was 1 of 4 with his grand slam and a walk. Johnson of PLU was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI. Carlson finished 3 fo 4 with a double, a run scored and one RBI. Willamette outhit the Lutes, 12-9.