Two Big Innings Hurt Bearcats, as Pomona-Pitzer Sweeps, 9-7 and 11-6

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

(BASEBALL) CLAREMONT, CALIF. -- Willamette University gave up one big inning to Pomona-Pitzer in each game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 17. The two innings were the difference for the Sagehens, who defeated Willamette, 9-7 and 11-6. Pomona-Pitzer, which rallied from a 7-3 deficit in the first game and built a 5-3 lead early in the second game, improved to 4-1 on the season. The Bearcats dropped to 1-4 overall.

In the opener, the Sagehens plated six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to surge past the Bearcats and into the lead. The comeback stole a win from Willamette starter Tye Sundlee (Jr., RHP, Yakima, WA/West Valley HS), who left the game with a 4-3 lead after allowing just six hits in seven innings. Willamette’s lead expanded to 7-3 after the Bearcats tallied three runs in the top of the eighth.

Pomona-Pitzer started its comeback with a leadoff double by Zachary Mandelblatt, who scored on the next play when Scott Stroup singled to right field. Three batters and one out later, James Kang blasted a homer to right field to plate three more runs and tie the game at 7-7. Willamette recorded the second out on a fly ball to center, but the Sagehens kept the inning alive with a single by James Brunswick and an infield error on a ball put into play by Clay Leonard. A balk and a walk loaded the bases before Mandelblatt, batting for the second time in the inning, hit a single to center field to score the go-ahead run and an insurance run.

Michael Joannides pitched the top of the ninth for Pomona-Pitzer. He ended the game quickly forcing the Bearcats into a groundout and two fly outs for a 1-2-3 inning. Joannides picked up his first save of the season, while Kyle Buika earned the win and improved to 1-1 for the Sagehens. Buika threw just one-third of an inning to conclude the top of the eighth stanza. WU reliever Scott Martin (Fr., RHP, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), fell to 0-1 after suffering the loss.

Although Sundlee left the game without a decision for Willamette, he was perhaps the most effective pitcher in the opener. He allowed three runs, but only two were earned. He also recorded four strikeouts with no walks and no hit batsmen. He remained 1-0 on the season with a 1.84 earned run average.

Top hitters for Willamette in the opener were Ellis Webster (So., 2B, Carlsbad, CA/San Dieguito HS), who went 2 for 4 with a run and two RBIs, and Grant Yamaguchi (Sr., 1B, Aiea, HI/Mid Pacific Institute), who achieved two hits and scored three runs in five at bats. Dan Maslanik (So., C, Boulder, CO/Fairview HS) was 1 for 2 and led the Bearcats with three RBIs. Maslanik drove in two runs in Willamette’s three-run sixth inning, as the ‘Cats took a 4-1 lead.

Pomona-Pitzer scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on solo homers by Mandelblatt and Drew Hedman, as the Sagehens pulled within 4-3. Mandelblatt led all players with three hits in five at bats, to go with two runs and three RBIs. Kang finished 2 for 4 with one run and a game-high four RBIs.

The Sagehens outhit the Bearcats, 13-6, in the opener. Pomona-Pitzer also benefited from five Willamette errors, which led to three unearned runs.

In the second game, Willamette struck first with three runs in the opening stanza. All three runs were earned with two outs, as Kyle Stalker (So., DH/1B, Bellevue, WA/Sammamish HS) and Sean Anderson (Jr., CF, Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS) both doubled and eventually scored on a home run by Ty Eriksen (Sr., 1B, Vancouver, WA/La Salle HS).

Pomona’s big five-run inning followed, as the Sagehens took the lead. PP achieved four hits -- all singles -- during the inning and also benefited from one walk and a sacrifice fly. Ben Ginsberg drove in two runs with a single, while four three other players each registered one RBI.

The Sagehens increased their lead to 7-2 by adding a pair of runs in the second inning. Mandelblatt, who doubled and scored during the inning, went 4 for 5 in the second game and finished the day 7 for 10 at the plate. After Willamette cut the lead to 8-6 with a trio of runs in the seventh inning, Mandelblatt hit an RBI double in the eighth to help Pomona clinch the win with a three-run stanza.

Willamette outhit the Sagehens in the second game, 12-11, but left 10 men on base and struck out 10 times. The Bearcats received three hits in three at bats from Stalker, while Anderson (2 of 5), Eriksen (2 of 5) and Matthew Rasmussen (Sr., SS, Sandy, UT/Bingham HS), who went 2 of 4, each provided more than one hit. Both of Anderson’s hits were doubles, while Rasmussen was credited with one double.

Pomona-Pitzer was led by Mandelblatt, along with Ginsberg and Brandon Huerta. Ginsberg completed the game with two hits and two RBIs in four at bats. Huerta was 3 for 5, scored three times and drove in two runs. Starter Tom Dunlap (1-0) recorded the win for the Sagehens, as he overcame 10 hits and six runs by striking out seven batters in seven innings. Mandelblatt threw the final two innings to earn his first save.

WU starter Clint Moran (Jr., LHP, Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley HS) fell to 0-2 with the loss. He allowed six hits and seven runs in two innings pitched.

The Bearcats play well on defense in the second game, as Moran’s error in the second inning was the only miscue by either team during the contest. Pomona-Pitzer concluded the doubleheader with only one error, a misplay by Joannides in right field during the second inning of the first game.

Willamette will remain in Southern California to take on California State University-San Marcos in a single game on Sunday, Feb. 18. Game time is set for 11 a.m. (PST).