Bearcats Open Season With Sweep of Occidental

LOS ANGELES, CA — Stellar pitching allowed only seven runs in three games, and Matt Rasmussen, Grant Yamaguchi and Steve Johnson led the offense with timely hitting as the Willamette University men’s baseball team opened the 2006 season with a three-game sweep of Occidental College this weekend in Los Angeles.

The Bearcats swept a double-header on Saturday, winning 9-3 and 6-0 behind five-inning, one-hit starts from both Tye Sundlee and Clint Moran. The Bearcats completed the sweep on Sunday with a 6-4 win on Steve Johnson’s 3-run home run.

Willamette got off to a great start in its opening game Saturday, scoring five times in the top of the first inning to hand Occidental its first loss of the season. Sean Anderson singled to open the Bearcat s season. Kevin Stalker, Rasmussen, Yamaguchi and Lee Ecklund all had RBI hits in the first as the Bearcats batted around and took a 5-0 lead.

After that, it was all Sundlee as the sophomore right-hander struck out eight and allowed only one hit in his five innings of work. Adam Beebe and Nic Nottingham finished off the rout. Anderson and Stalker each had a pair of hits. Rasmussen scored three times with an RBI. Yamaguchi knocked in three runs as the Bearcats recorded eight hits.

In game two, sophomore left-hander Clint Moran picked up where Sundlee left off, allowing only one hit and striking out six in five innings of work before Ryan Smith and Matt Bicocca each pitched an inning of hitless relief in the seven inning contest.

The Bearcats again used a big inning early, this time scoring three times in the second inning. Yamaguchi got that rally going with a single Brian Gilmore walked in one run to go along with a Matt Johnson sacrifice fly and Steve Johnson’s RBI single. The Bearcats pounded out nine hits as eight Bearcats all had at least one. Rasmussen led the way with a pair of hits and two RBI. Anderson scored twice.

Steve Johnson delivered the big blow in game three’s 6-4 win, blasting a 3-run homerun in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie. Drew Herbert and Kelsey Nakata combined to allow six hits. Herbert picked up the win despite allowing three runs.

Nakata pitched 4 and 2/3 innings, allowing only one run and one hit. Rasmussen again had a pair of hits and an RBI. Matt Johnson was 3-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.

The 3-0 Bearcats return to California next weekend, playing Menlo College in single games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.