Willamette to Battle Missionaries in NWC Baseball Series in Walla Walla

Bearcats, 17-11 Overall, Hold Third Place in Conference Standings at 10-4

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University baseball team returns to Northwest Conference action Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13 with a three-game series against Whitman College at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla, Wash. The Bearcats and the Missionaries will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 12 p.m. (PDT), followed by a single game on Sunday, also at 12 p.m.

Webcasts and Live Stats will be provided by Whitman during the games.

Willamette is among the top teams in the NWC. Linfield College leads the standings at 17-1. George Fox University is second with a 13-5 record, followed by Willamette in third at 10-4. The Bearcats gave Linfield its only NWC loss. WU won all three games against GFU.

Pacific Lutheran University is fourth with an 8-6 conference mark. Whitman holds fifth place with a 7-11 record in the nine-team conference.

In addition to Willamette versus Whitman, other NWC series this weekend include George Fox at Pacific Lutheran, Lewis & Clark College at the University of Puget Sound, and Pacific University at Whitworth University. Linfield is hosting Pomona-Pitzer in non-conference play.

The Bearcats have been led by strong pitching this season and have received solid offensive play from several athletes.

Matt Jepsen (Fr., LHP, Fallbrook, CA/Fallbrook HS) tops the pitching staff with a 2.29 earned run average. He is 4-3 with 30 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched. Peter Hoffman (Jr., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS) owns a 2.93 ERA and a 3-2 record. He leads the team with 58 innings pitched and 41 strikeouts. 

Tyler Olson (Jr., RHP, Yuba City, CA/Yuba City HS) is 2-1 and hold a 4.86 ERA. He has struck out 16 batters in 33 1/3 innings on the mound.

Jepsen, Hoffman and Olson have been WU's starters in all 14 NWC games this spring. They have averaged 6.8 innings per start in conference play.

Closer Jackson Watt (So., RHP, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) to earned a 5-1 record and four saves in 13 appearances. He is 3-0 with two saves in NWC action. For the year, Watt owns a 3.54 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Tiras Koon (Jr., C/1B, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) ranks first on offensive with a .382 batting average (.409 in the NWC). He leads the team in slugging percentage (.632), on-base percentage (.495) and doubles (10). He is second with 21 RBIs.

Freshman designated hitter Ty Wyatt (Keizer, OR/McNary HS) leads Willamette with four homers. He is batting .329 with a team-high 22 RBIs. Hunter Gallant (Jr., 3B/SS, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) tops the squad with 33 hits and is tied for first with 18 runs. He has achieved a .324 batting average and 20 RBIs.

Brad Breier (Jr., C, Torrance, CA/South HS) at .310 and Tosh Semlacher (Sr., CF, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) at .305 also are batting above the .300 mark. Tommy Kawamura (Sr., SS/2B, Renton, WA/Lindbergh HS) leads the Bearcats with 20 walks and is tied for the team lead with 18 runs scored.

Brandon Chinn (Sr., OF/1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) has been hit by pitches nine times and has walked eight times. His .427 on-base percentage is second on the team behind Koon. Rolenn Himuro (Jr., OF, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) has provided a team-high nine sacrifice bunts.

For the season, Willamette is hitting .277 as a team, while opponents are batting .278. The Bearcats hold a 40-point advantage in conference play with a .323 batting average compared to an opponent average of .283.

Whitman enters the weekend with a .287 team batting average. Ozzy Braff and Aaron Cohen are tied for first on the team with a .344 average and three homers. Braff leads the Missionaries with 30 runs, while Cohen is first with 13 doubles and 34 RBIs. Jimmy Madden is hitting .331 with 27 runs.

The Missionaries lead the NWC in strikeouts with 202 and in walks with 122.

Will Thompson has pitched a team-high 58 2/3 innings for Whitman. He is 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA. Brett Lambert holds a 2.79 ERA and is 1-2 on the season with 42 innings pitched. Aaron Cohen is 3-4 with a .364 ERA in 47 innings.

All three have significant strikeout totals, as Lambert has fanned 58 batters, Cohen has struck out 41 and Thompson has struck out 40. Whitman's pitchers rank second in the NWC in both strikeouts (244) and walks (123).

Following the series, Willamette will host Lewis & Clark in a non-conference game at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Ore., on Tuesday, April 15. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (PDT).

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Hunter Gallant is batting .324 for the season. He leads the Bearcats with 33 hits and is tied for the team lead with 18 runs.

Hunter Gallant is batting .324 for the season. He leads the Bearcats with 33 hits and is tied for the team lead with 18 runs.