By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University baseball team's pitching staff finished the 2019 season ranked seventh in NCAA Division III in fewest walks allowed per nine innings. The Bearcats gave up 83 walks in 307 innings, for an average of 2.43 walks per nine-inning game. The national leader was Mitchell College (Conn.) with 1.72 walks allowed per nine innings.
In addition to ranking in the top 10 in walks allowed per nine innings, the Bearcats registered two more rankings in the top 25 and an additional three rankings in the top 75. A total of 390 colleges and universities field baseball teams in NCAA Division III.
The Bearcats' pitching staff ranked 19th in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Willamette pitchers struck out 223 batters and allowed 83 walks, as they registered 2.69 strikeouts for each walk allowed. Matt Steindorf (Sr., RHP, Granite Bay, CA/Granite Bay HS) led the way with 68 strikeouts and just 10 walks as he ranked 22nd in the nation in individual strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Willamette averaged a bit less than one home run per game (28 in 35 games) to rank 23rd in NCAA Division III (0.8 avg.). The Bearcats were 51st in total home runs (28).
Bearcat batters ranked 63rd in the nation this spring with 63 sacrifice bunts. Tyler Janitz (Sr., SS, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS), Sean Little (So., RF, Corvallis, OR/Crescent Valley HS) and Tyler Vandemark (So., LF, Modesto, CA/Joseph A. Gregori HS) tied for the team lead with six sacrifice bunts apiece.
WU played excellent defense throughout the season and finished the year ranked 33rd in the country with a .968 earned run average. The Bearcats tied the school record for fielding percentage for the second year in a row. The record of .968 was originally set by the 1993 team. This year's success helped build a three-year stretch of great defense, starting with a .967 fielding percentage in 2017.
For the year, Willamette's pitchers ranked 75th in WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched). The Bearcats allowed 354 hits for a total of 437 walks and hits in 307 innings for a WHIP of 1.42.
Steindorf, in addition to ranking 22nd in strikeout-to-walk ratio, was 26th in walks allowed per nine innings (1.08) and was 35th in victories with an 8-3 record. Nathan Gilman (Sr., RHP, Chino Hills, CA/Diamond Ranch HS) ranked 33rd in walks allowed per nine innings at 1.15 (7 in 54 2/3 innings).
Six of Willamette's individual career records were set by seniors this season. Steindorf set career records with 33 wins, 49 starts and 356 23 innings pitched. Connor Bailey (Sr., CF, San Diego, CA/Scripps Ranch HS) earned school career records with 615 at bats and 213 hits. Bailey tied a school record with nine career triples, matching the mark set by Nik Lubisich from 1998-01.
Willamette completed the 2019 season with a 19-16 overall record and a 14-10 record (4th place tie) in the Northwest Conference. Bailey led the Bearcats with a .368 batting average, while Steindorf topped the pitching staff with a 2.81 earned run average.