By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Matt Steindorf (Sr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) pitched a complete-game four-hitter with seven strikeouts, and Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) hit for three-fourths of the cycle, including a two-run homer, as Willamette University opened its three-game series at Linfield College with a 6-1 victory on Saturday, March 9. In the second game, Linfield score five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally from a 3-1 deficit and claim a 6-3 win.
The split of the doubleheader left Willamette with a 9-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the Northwest Conference. Linfield ended the day at 4-10 overall, 2-6 in the NWC. The teams will complete the series with a game on Sunday, March 10 at Roy Helser Field, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT).
"Two good baseball games," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said about the doubleheader. "Matt pitched outstanding and we took advantage of our offensive opportunities in game one."
Steindorf improved to 4-0 on the season and to 29-7 in his career. He moved within one win of Willamette's record for career victories, set at 30 by Matt Kosderka from 1995-98. Steindorf who has struck out 37 batters in 37 2/3 innings this year, ranks sixth all-time at Willamette with 201 career strikeouts.
Scanlon Smacks a Home Run, a Double and a Single in First Game
While Steindorf was putting together a great effort on the mound, Scanlon was leading the Bearcats on offense in the opener. He hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to give Willamette a 2-0 lead. He belted a double and went on to score in the sixth inning, and he hit an RBI single in the seventh. He was 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs.
Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) walked to start the top of the fourth inning. Scanlon batted next and powered the ball over the left field fence. The Bearcats remained in front 2-0 after five innings, despite Linfield holding a 2-1 advantage in hits.
One of Linfield's hits almost contributed to a score for the Wildcats in the fifth. After Levi Horner-Villa reached on an error at third and Wyatt Smith was hit by a pitch, Treve Earhart provided a bunt single to load the bases. Steindorf struck out Colton Robinson for the first out. Ben Whitt then hit into a 6-3 double play, with Earhart out at second.
In the top of the sixth, Janitz walked and Scanlon doubled down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Ethan Fischel (Fr., INF, Eureka, CA/Eureka HS) hit into a fielder's choice, with Janitz thrown out in a run-down between third and home. Fischel went to second on the play. Sean Little (So., INF, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) drove in Scanlon and Fischel with a single up the middle for a 4-0 lead.
Linfield scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Cameron Fox hit a double to right. Tanner Earhart drove Fox home with a single through the right side.
The Bearcats added two runs in the top of the seventh. Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) singled with one out and stole second base. With two outs, Janitz sent a single into right field, allowing Bailey to score. Janitz went to second on the throw home. Scanlon followed with an RBI single through the left side. Fischel singled and Little was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, but a ground out ended the inning.
Steindorf faced just seven batters in the final two innings. He struck out one batter in the eighth and two in the ninth, before ending the game by forcing Horner-Villa to ground out.
Horner-Villa Breaks 3-3 Tie with 3-Run Homer in Second Game
Linfield's rally in the bottom of the eighth inning in the second game included two key hits. The first was a two-run single by Wyatt Smith that tied the score at 3-3. The second occurred two batters later, when Horner-Villa belted a three-run home run to break the tie.
The Wildcats led 1-0 with a run in the bottom of the second inning, before Willamette tied the game with a run in the third. The Bearcats moved in front with a run in the fifth and grabbed a 3-1 lead with a run in the top of the sixth.
Smith walked for Linfield with one out in the second. He moved to third on a double by Zach Cokos, and then scored on a ground out to shortstop by Ben Wagner
In Willamette's next at bat, Bailey smacked a solo homer to left field. In the fifth, Scanlon singled up the middle with one out, reached second on a walk issued to Bailey, and scored for a 2-1 lead when Cole Pursell (Sr./Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) hit into an error by the third baseman. Bailey reached third on the play, but Pursell was thrown out on his way to second. Linfield starter Colton Meyer recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
The Bearcats increased the margin to two run in the top of the eighth. Fischel was hit by the firt pitch thrown by reliever Kameron Walker. Little advanced Fischel to second with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Kyle Underwood (So., C, Highland, CA/Citrus Valley HS) hit an RBI single into right field.
After Linfield surged into a 6-3 lead, Scanlon opened the top of the ninth with a double to right center for the Bearcats. Liam Herlihy, who started the inning on the mound for Linfield, earned two strikeouts, before Scanlon went to third on a passed ball. Herlihy registered a third strikeout to end the game and receive his first save of the season.
Walker improved to 2-0 with the win. Willamette starter Brandon Nelson (Sr., RHP, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) pitched 7 2/3 innings and fell to 1-3 on the season despite allowing just one run and five hits prior to the eighth inning.
Scanlon was 2 of 4 for the Bearcats. He went 5 of 9 during the doubleheader, with three runs, three RBIs, a homer, and two doubles. Cromwell was 3 of 4 for Linfeld with a double and a run scored. Cokos went 2 of 4 with a double and a run scored, while Smith ended the game 1 of 2 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs.
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
It was a big day for Justin Scanlon, who went 5 for 9 at the plate during the
doubleheader. In the fourth inning of the opener, Scanlon blasted a two-run
homer to left field to give the Bearcats a 2-0 lead. It was his first home run
since transferring to WU this year from West Valley College in California. He
went on to hit for three-fourths of the cycle in the first game (HR, 2B, 1B).
In the second game, Scanlon hit another single and a double.