Baseball | Friday, March 21, 2014
Bearcats Travel to Lewis & Clark for Key NWC Series
Doubleheader Set for Noon Saturday; Single Game will Start at Noon Sunday
SALEM, ORE. -- As the Northwest Conference baseball race continues to heat up, Willamette University will take the short drive up I-5 to Portland, Ore., this weekend for a key series against rival Lewis & Clark College.
Willamette will play a doubleheader against L&C on Saturday, March 22, with first pitch of game one set for 12 p.m. (PDT) at the Huston Sports Complex. On Sunday, March 23, the Bearcats and Pioneers will play a single game, also starting at noon.
Willamette enters the series at 10-9 on the year, 4-4 in NWC play (4th place). Last weekend, the Bearcats swept a three game series from then #17-ranked George Fox University at John Lewis Field.
In the first game of the series, Tyler Olson (Jr., IF, Yuba City, CA/Yuba City HS) threw a complete-game seven-hitter as the Bearcats defeated the Bruins 8-2. Offensively, Willamette roughed up GFU starter Clay Gartner, who entered the game with a 0.69 ERA, for eight runs (seven earned) in just 4 1/3 innings.
In the second half of the doubleheader, the Bearcats pounded out 20 hits. With the game tied at four in the bottom of the sixth inning, Willamette took the lead for good with three runs. Tiras Koon (Jr., C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) went 4 for 5 in the contest with four doubles, two runs and an RBI.
WU starter Matt Jepsen (Fr., LHP, Fallbrook, CA/Fallbrook HS) threw 6 2/3 innings to earn his third win of the season. Jackson Watt (So., RHP, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) registered his third save of the year, forcing a fly out and two groundouts to end the game.
Willamette also won the series' dramatic final game, as Brandon Chinn (Sr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Shea Harrison (So., UT., El Cerrito, CA/El Cerrito HS) for the winning run.
Peter Hoffman (Jr., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS) went eight innings, allowing one run and six hits while striking out five batters with no walks. Watt pitched the final three innings to get the win.
Koon is Willamette's top hitter this season with a .378 batting average and a team-high 15 RBIs. Tosh Semlacher (Jr., CF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) ranks second on the team with a .321 batting average, while Hunter Gallant (Jr., INF, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) is hitting .304.
Ty Wyatt (Fr., DH/INF, Keizer, OR/McNary HS) leads WU with three home runs, including one in each of the last two weekends.
Willamette's three-man rotation consists of Olson, Jepsen and Hoffman. Olson leads the team with a 2.22 ERA, while Jepsen (3-3) leads the team in wins. Hoffman (1-2) leads the Bearcats in strikeouts (27) and innings pitched (41 2/3).
Lewis & Clark (5-8-1, 2-4 NWC) is in seventh place in the NWC standings. The youthful Pioneers, who feature just one senior on their roster, dropped two out of three games at Pacific University last weekend.
Offensively, L&C is led by Bradley Lezak, whose .381 batting average ranks fourth in the NWC. Matthew Cathcart (.312), Ben Beck (.311), and Michael Kinkenon (.304) are all batting above .300 for the Pios.
John Trupin (3-1), Ryan Strombom (0-2), and Aaron Landeker (1-4) have each started four games for L&C. Trupin leads the starting rotation with a 3.73 ERA, while Strombom (7.50) and Landeker (7.83) are each significantly higher.
L&C's primary reliever is Alex Heimbrodt (1-0), who has made five appearances this year. Heimbrodt sports a 1.16 ERA in 23 1/3 innings pitched.