Pursell and Hudd Smack Homers to Help Bearcats Roll Past Boxers, 9-3

Pursell and Hudd Smack Homers to Help Bearcats Roll Past Boxers, 9-3

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University baseball players Cole Pursell (Sr./Jr., C, Oceanside, CA/El Camino HS) and Sam Hudd (Sr./Jr., 1B, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) each belted a home run, as the Bearcats rolled to a 9-3 victory over Pacific University on Sunday, March 31 at John Lewis Field. Pursell blasted a two-run shot in the first inning to give Willamette an early lead, while Hudd provided a three-run homer in the sixth inning to give the Bearcats a 7-0 advantage.

The victory allowed Willamette to win the NWC weekend series against the Boxers, 2-1. The Bearcats prevailed in the final two games after Pacific won the opener, 3-2 in 10 innings, on Saturday. Willamette rebounded with an 8-1 triumph in the second game on Saturday and then added Sunday's win. Willamette and Pacific tied the overall season series at 2-2, with the Boxers winning 4-2 in a non-conference game on Feb. 16.

On Sunday, starting pitcher Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) tossed six scoreless innings for the Bearcats, as he improved to 4-2. Gilman allowed just four hits on a double and three singles, while striking out three batters and giving up two walks.

"Nate gave us a great outing," Willamette Head Coach Aaron Swick said. "Sam's home run was huge. It's awesome to see all his hard work pay off, especially in such an important game."

The bottom of the first began with a strikeout and a foul out, but Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) kept the inning alive with a single to left field. Pursell batted next and smashed the ball over the left field fence to give Willamette a 2-0 lead.

In the offensive half of the third for the Bearcats, Justin Scanlon (Jr., 2B/DH, San Jose, CA/Leigh HS/West Valley College) doubled near the left field line with one out. Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) hit an RBI single, with Scanlon crossing the plate. Janitz reached base on an error by the shortstop, but a double play ended the inning.

Meanwhile, Gilman and the Willamette defense were keeping Pacific off the scoreboard.

Gilman faced three batters in the first and allowed just a leadoff single in the second. Gilman hit Dylan Morgan with a pitch to start the third, but the Bearcats immediately turned a 6-4-3 double play. In the fourth, a walk, a single by Ryan Krout and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out, but Gilman forced Jacob Iwata into a 5-4-3 double play.

After pitching to only three batters in the top of the fifth, Gilman forced fly outs by the first two batters in the sixth. He then walked Blair, before Krout singled. A single down the line by Eli Wisdom appeared to load the bases, but Krout went past second and was thrown out while Blair was still at third base.

The Bearcats upped their advantage to 7-0 with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. All of the action occurred with two outs. Brendan Natuzzi (Sr., 3B, Napa, CA/Justin-Siena HS) walked, and Kyle Paguio (Sr., 3B, Stevenson Ranch, CA/West Ranch HS) produced a pinch-hit single. Joey Faudskar (Jr., OF/P, Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle HS) single down the left field line to drive home Natuzzi, an then Hudd blasted his three-run homer.

Bailey walked and eventually scored for Willamette in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Chase Anderson of Pacific walked and later scored when Ian Blair reached base on an error. A 5-4-3 double play ened the half-inning. During WU's next at bat, Paguio walked and went on to score on a sacrifice fly by Scanlon, giving WU a 9-1 lead.

Both teams recorded nine hits during the game. Krout was 3 of 4 for Pacific and was the only player with more than one hit. Tanner Johnson earned he Boxers' only extra-base hit with a double. Willamette benefited from the homers by Pursell and Hudd, plus Scanlon's double. Three Pacific pitchers accumulated seven strikeouts, but also walked eight batters.

Willamette is set to take on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) in one game on Friday, April 5 followed by a doubleheader on Saturday, April 6. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. (PDT) on Friday. Action on Saturday is slated to start at 12 p.m.

Sam Hudd (Sr./Jr., 1B, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS)

Big Moment of the Day for Willamette

Sam Hudd pounded a three-run homer over the left center field
fence to give the Bearcats a 7-0 lead in the sixth inning. Hudd
was one of nine Willamette players with a hit. He also received
a walk during the game. Hudd batted .438 (7 of 16) in five
games played between Wednesday and Sunday this week.