Ecklund powers Bearcats past PLU, 5-3

TACOMA, Wash. — The Willamette Bearcat baseball team continued their run toward first place in the Northwest Conference with a 5-3 victory over the host Pacific Lutheran Lutes Friday afternoon.

The Bearcats (12-4 NWC, 16-10) entered the day two games behind George Fox for the NWC lead. The Lutes lost its fifth straight in falling to 6-9 in NWC play and 7-21 overall.

Lute pitcher Matt Farley pitched well for the first six innings, allowing one run on four hits, before being lit up for three runs on three hits in the Willamette seventh. WU center fielder Drew Ecklund contributed the big Bearcat hit of the inning, driving in two with a double, giving Willamette a 4-0 lead.

The Lutes countered with three runs in their half of the eighth inning. Catcher Drew Randolph smashed a double down the left field line to score the second and third runs of the inning.

Willamette earned an insurance run in the ninth when shortstop Colin Griffin scored second baseman Matt Johnson on a single to right field.

Bearcat pitcher Zach Vande Griend earned his fourth win against four losses, allowing three runs on seven hits in his eight innings of work.

Brian Gilmore came on in the ninth to earn his third save of the year. Ecklund led Willamette with three hits, including a double.