By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Cole Pursell (Sr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) hit a two-run walk-off single with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, as Willamette University rallied from a two-run deficit in its final at bat to defeat University of Puget Sound, 5-4, in a non-conference game at Chuck Bafaro Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 16. Puget Sound scored two runs in the top of the ninth for a 4-2 lead, but the Bearcats plated three runs in the bottom of the inning to win the game.
Sean Rooney opened the top of the ninth for the Loggers with a double to center field. Mason Quinlan drove in Rooney with a single to left center, as Puget Sound grabbed a 3-2 lead. After Hunter Riley singled to right, Tyler Brazelton flied out down the right field line to advance Quinlan to third. AJ Morioka struck out and then Ryota Nishino singled to bring Quinlan home.
Down by two runs with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Bearcats began to rally. Sam Hudd (Sr./Jr., INF, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) walked and gave way to pinch-runner Jack Garver (Fr., OF, Salt Lake City, UT/Skyline HS). One out later, with Garver still at first base, Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) smacked a double into right center, sending Garver to third.
Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) was intentionally walked to load the bases. Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) also walked, forcing Garver across the plate. Pursell batted next and singled to center field to drive home Janitz with the tying run and Bailey with the winning run.
Pursell was Willamette's top offensive performer during the game. He scored the Bearcats' first two runs and finished the game 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a double. Janitz was 2 for 4 with a run and a double. Nick Di Fiori (So., 1B/DH, Monrovia, CA/Bishop Amat HS) drove in two runs and recorded 13 putouts at first base.
For Puget Sound, Riley was 2 of 4 with a solo home run. Rooney and Brazelton each registered a double for the Loggers.
Willamette scored the game's first run in the bottom of the second. Pursell started the inning with a double to left. One out later, Brendan Natuzzi (Sr., 3B, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) moved Pursell to third with a single to center. Di Fiori followed with a sacrifice fly that allowed Pursell to cross the plate.
The Logges tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third when Morioka singled to center and eventually scored. He went to second on a walk issued to Nishino, reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Mick, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jack Gries. Puget Sound moved in front, 2-1, on Riley's homer in the top of the fourth.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Pursell singled to left center. Ethan Fischel (Fr., INF, Eureka, CA/Eureka HS) also singled. The runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball. After Natuzzi walked to load the bases, Di Fiori hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, tying the score at 2-2 as Pursell scored from third.
Neither team scored again until the ninth inning, although Willamette had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth. Puget Sound got out of the jam with a pop-up to second and a ground out toward third.
WU starter Matt Steindorf (Sr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) pitched seven innings. He allowed two runs and four hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Reliefer Liam Keefe (So., LHP, Lake Arrowhead, CA/Rim of the World HS) moved to 1-0 with the win for the Bearcats. Keefe gave up two runs in the ninth, but also struck out two batters in two innings of work. Puget Sound relief pitcher Jesse Awa fell to 0-1 with the loss.
Willamette was set to conclude the day with a non-conference game against Pacific University.
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Cole Pursell scored two runs and drove in two runs in the 5-4 win.
The Big Moment was his two-run, walk-off single with the bases
loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to drive in
the tying run and the winning run. The Bearcats scored three times
in the bottom of the ninth to erase a 4-2 lead for Puget Sound.
During the game, Pursell registered three hits, including a double.