Wong passes win milestone as WU sweeps Whitworth

SALEM — Willamette’s David Wong became the school’s all-time winningest baseball coach Saturday after his Bearcats swept Whitworth in a Northwest Conference doubleheader 4-3 and 7-6 at John Lewis Field.

Wong surpassed former coach John Lewis, who won 276 games from 1948-72. Wong is 277-215-3 in his 13th season at his alma mater.

The victories improved Willamette’s records to 11-7 overall and 7-1 in the NWC, while Whitworth fell to 9-9-1 and 5-5, respectively.

Saturday’s first game was a pitcher’s duel, as Willamette’s Zach Vande Griend outgunned Whitworth’s Dan Lundeberg. Vande Griend, last week’s NWC Pitcher of the Week, struck out 14 Pirates and did not issue a walk. He allowed seven hits over nine innings and the three runs he allowed were on solo homers. Lundeberg yielded 11 hits and two walks over eight innings, while striking out three Bearcats. All four runs scored against him were earned.

WU tallied the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Drew Ecklund tied the game at 3-3 with a one-out single, plating Matt Drahn. Ecklund later scored the winning run on a single to left field by Jason Chatterton. Chatterton had three singles in four at-bats for Willamette.

The second game started off as a close battle between Whitworth starter Josh Mills and Willamette’s Jeff Jensen. But after both pitchers were taken out in the eighth inning, the game turned offensive.

Whitworth scored three runs in the top of the eighth. Dan Gebbers tripled to center and scored on an error, tying the game at 3-3. With two out in the frame, Chris Hughbanks singled, knocking in two runs to make it 5-3.

But the Bearcats scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-5 advantage. Mike Allen had a two-run single as WU sent nine men to the plate in the inning.

Whitworth mounted another rally in the ninth. Josh Taylor scored Danny Pecka from third on a sacrifice fly to left, bringing the visitors within a run. With John Gebbers on second base, Daniel Gebbers flied out to deep center field to end the game.

Willamette outhit Whitworth 14-6 in the second game but committed six errors. Travis Shull led WU at the plate by going 3 for 4 with an RBI and run scored. Allen was 2 for 4 with three RBI.

Whitworth’s solo homers in the first game came from Taylor and each of the Gebbers brothers.

Chatterton also had two hits in the nightcap, making him 5 for 7 on the day.

The two teams return to John Lewis Field at noon on Sunday to complete their three-game NWC series.