Bearcats Pound Out 13 Hits, Defeat Pacific Lutheran 7-6

Simon Earns First Win; Breier, Himuro Each Drive In Two Runs

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

PARKLAND, WASH. -- Willamette University rode hot hitting and strong pitching to an early 7-2 lead, then held off a late Pacific Lutheran University rally to claim a 7-6 victory in a Northwest Conference baseball game on Sunday, March 3 at the PLU Baseball Field.

The win snapped a three game losing streak for the Bearcats, who improved to 5-7, 1-2 in the NWC. Willamette moved its record to 1-5 this year in games decided by one run.

Pacific Lutheran fell to 9-4, 2-1 in NWC play.

Brandon Simon (Sr., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills School) earned his first win of the year for the Bearcats, scattering nine hits over 6 2/3 innings while giving up four runs. Simon also struck out six PLU batters. Parker Johnson (Sr., RHP, Carlsbad, CA/La Costa Canyon HS) notched his first save of the season.

Offensively, Willamette was led by Brad Breier (So., C, Torrance, CA/South HS) and Rolenn Himuro (So., OF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School). Breier went 3 for 4 at the plate with a double and two RBIs. Himuro drove in two runs on two hits.

Matt Hirsch (Fr., SS, Edmonds, WA/Meadowdale HS), Hunter Gallant (So., 3B, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS), and Tosh Semlacher (Jr., OF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) each registered two hits as well, as the Bearcats' bats came alive for 13 hits against four PLU pitchers.

After struggling to score early runs in Saturday's doubleheader, Willamette struck early and often against Lutes starter Chris Bishop.

Peter Davis (Fr., OF/RHP, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) started things off with a one out single in the top of the second. Davis reached third on Breier's double, then scored on a groundout RBI from Brandon Chinn (Jr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS).

The Bearcats added to their lead with a two out rally in the top of the fourth, with Davis, Breier, and Chinn again serving as the catalysts.

Davis and Chinn sandwiched a pair of walks around a Breier single, loading the bases. Each runner moved ahead 90 feet when Bishop tossed a wild pitch, bringing Davis across the plate for a 2-0 Willamette lead. Himuro then cleared the bases with a clutch single to right, giving WU a 4-0 lead.

PLU got two runs back in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of a leadoff double, two singles and a balk by Simon, but the Bearcats extended their lead again in the top of the fifth.

With one out, a double by Tyson Giza (Sr., OF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) and a Gallant single chased Bishop, but new PLU pitcher Collin Nilson fared little better, as Semlacher ripped a single to right to score Giza.

After Nilson's wild pitch advanced the runners, Breier hit a two-run single up the middle to score Gallant and Semlacher, pushing Willamette's lead to 7-2. Those extra runs proved crucial later in the game.

PLU finally got to Simon in the bottom of the seventh, using a two-out rally of their own to push four runs across the plate. But with the Bearcats clinging to a 7-6 lead and two runners on, Zach Holcomb (So., RHP, Bellevue, WA/Newport HS) corralled Jordan Coleman's line drive to end the inning.

Breier turned in a stellar defensive play to help end PLU's last real threat, in the bottom of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Breier fielded an intended sacrifice bunt cleanly, then fired to third to nab the Lutes' lead runner. Johnson then induced an inning-ending double play.

Willamette will return to John Lewis Field next weekend for its first home series of the year, taking on archrival Linfield in a doubleheader on Saturday, March 9. First pitch against the Wildcats, ranked 22nd in D3baseball.com's latest poll, is scheduled for 11 a.m.

BOX SCORE

Willamette University 7
Pacific Lutheran University 6 

Brad Breier had an outstanding day at the plate, going 3 for 4 and driving in WU's winning runs with a two-run single in the top of the fifth inning.

Brad Breier had an outstanding day at the plate, going 3 for 4 and driving in WU's winning runs with a two-run single in the top of the fifth inning.