Jepsen Tosses Gem as Bearcats Split Twinbill with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

Stags Rally Past Willamette for 8-7 Win in Game 1

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

CLAREMONT, CALIF. -- Willamette University freshman Matt Jepsen (LHP, Fallbrook, CA/Fallbrook HS) pitched seven scoreless innings in his collegiate debut, helping Willamette earn a 5-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

In the first game, the Stags scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to snatch an unlikely 8-7 win over the Bearcats.

Willamette is now 2-1, while CMS is 1-3. The Bearcats will conclude their series against the Stags with one game on Sunday, Feb. 9, set for 12 p.m.

Coming in for starter Tyler Olson (So., RHP, Yuba City, CA/Yuba City HS) at the start of the third inning of the second game of the doubleheader, Jepsen pitched the final seven frames for the Bearcats, giving up no runs and just two hits, while striking out six and walking only two.

Hunter Gallant (Jr., INF, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) and Bryan Afzali (Jr., OF, Manhattan Beach, CA/Mira Costa HS) each hit a home run for Willamette in the game. Gallant rebounded from an 0 for 3 performance in the first game to go 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs in game two. Afzali also went 2 for 4 in the second game.

The Bearcats took control early in the contest, with Austin Hagarty (So., INF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) reaching base on a one-out single before Gallant belted his home run.

CMS answered with one run in the bottom of the first, but WU missed a golden opportunity to blow the game open in the top of the second inning. The Bearcats loaded the bases with no outs, but were unable to score.

Willamette did score two runs in the fourth inning, however, starting with Afzali's one-out solo shot. Tommy Kawamura (Sr., 2B, Renton, WA/Lindbergh HS), went to first after being hit by a pitch, Hagarty reached on a throwing error, and then Gallant loaded the bases with an infield single.

A sacrifice fly from Rolenn Himuro (Jr., LF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) plated Kawamura, but a fielder's choice cost the Bearcats a chance for any more runs.

Brandon Chinn (Sr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) scored Willamette's only other run of the day. With two outs and nobody on, Chinn was hit by a pitch, and Gordie Clary (So., 1B/LHP, Vacaville, CA/Vacaville HS) made the Stags pay with a clutch RBI triple to give WU a 5-1 cushion.

That insurance was all Jepsen (1-0) needed, as the freshman turned in a masterful relief performance. Starter Clayton Brock (0-1) took the loss for CMS.

Game one was a seesaw affair that saw the Stags twice rally from three-run Bearcat leads.

WU seized a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Tiras Koon (Jr., C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) scored on a groundout to short by Blake Lepire (So., UTL, Vista, CA/Vista HS/Santa Ana College). Earlier in the inning, Koon had doubled home Tosh Semlacher (Sr., CF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS), who led off with a bunt single, then stole second.

CMS scored in the bottom half of the frame, but Willamette got the run back in the fifth when a sacrifice fly from Gallant scored Shea Harrison (So., UTL, El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) from third base.

But the Stags finally got to Bearcat ace Peter Hoffman (Jr., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS) in the bottom of the seventh, plating two runs before Hoffman gave way to Garrett Davis (Sr., RHP, Marysville, WA/Marysville-Pilchuk HS). A passed ball scored the tying run before Davis got a strikeout to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, WU again seized the lead.

Harrison led off with a single and advanced to third on a double by Kawamura. Harrison then scored when Himuro reached and advanced to second on a fielding error.

Gallant lined out to third base, and the Stags intentionally walked Semlacher to load the bases. Koon and Brad Breier (Jr., C, Torrance, CA/South HS) then each drew bases loaded walks to give the Bearcats a 7-4 advantage, before Lepire hit into an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the ninth, however, the Stags rallied. Back-to-back singles followed by an RBI double by Jack Witte narrowed WU's lead to 7-5. Harrison moved from third base to relieve Davis on the mount, but Evan Opperman then scored on Scott Witte's sacrifice fly, and Ray Hurwitz knocked in the tying run with an RBI single. CMS won the game when Alan Toscano scored on a bases loaded walk.

Harrison (0-1) took the loss for Willamette, while reliever Troy Odo (1-0) earned the win for CMS.


Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 8
Willamette University 7

Willamette University 5
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 1

Freshman Matt Jepsen pitched seven innings in the second game of the doubleheader, giving up no runs and just two hits, while striking out six.