Bearcats Defeat Pirates, 9-4, in Series Opener

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

KENNEWICK, WASH. -- Willamette University and Whitworth University had to travel 145 miles from Spokane, Wash., to Kennewick, Wash., before their Northwest Conference baseball series started a day later than expected. Even so, the trip paid off for both teams as they split a doubleheader on Sunday, March 30 at La Pierre Field. The Bearcats won the first game, 9-4. Whitworth took the second game, 6-5.

Whitworth ended the day at 9-15 overall, 8-10 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette's record went to 11-12 overall, 7-7 in the NWC.

The series will conclude with another doubleheader on Monday, March 31. A decision will be made on Monday as to whether the doubleheader will be played in Spokane or moved elsewhere. The start time for the doubleheader also will be determined on Monday.

Willamette and Whitworth combined for five home runs on the day, but the most significant play may have been recorded by the Willamette defense in the bottom of the first inning of the nightcap. That's when the Bearcats turned their first triple play of the season.

Whitworth had runners and first and second when Mitch Ramsey hit a line drive to Doug Bloom (Fr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) with both runners stealing. Bloom caught the ball, then threw to Ellis Webster (Jr., 2B, Carlsbad, CA/San Dieguito HS) at second base to put out Dan Belet, who failed to tag up. Webster sent the ball to Kyle Stalker (Jr., 1B, Bellevue, WA/Sammamish HS) at first base to put out Jon Whiteside, who also failed to tag up.

In the opener, Mitch Ramsey and brother Dan Ramsey hit back-to-back homers in the third inning to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. Mitch's homer drove in the game's first two runs with one out in the inning. After Dan also homered, the Bearcats forced consecutive ground outs to end the threat.

Willamette rallied by scoring four runs in the fifth inning to pull in front, 4-3. With one out, Dan Maslanik (Jr., C, Boulder, CO/Fairview HS) singled. With two outs, Sean Anderson (Sr., CF, Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS) tripled to bring Maslanik home. Bloom walked to put runners at the corners, then Kyle Stalker (Jr., 1B, Bellevue, WA/Sammamish HS) followed with his NWC-leading 15th home run of the season.

The three-run blast extended Stalker's single season school record. It also increased his school record for career home runs to 29.

Neither team scored again until the Bearcats pulled away with a five-run ninth inning. Maslanik started the offensive explosion by belting the first home run of his career. Bloom added an RBI double during the inning. Stalker drove in two more runs with a double, and Jack McGee (Jr., 3B/P, Hillsborough, CA/St. Ignatius HS) added an RBI single. When WU finished batting, the Bearcats owned a 9-3 lead.

Clint Moran (Sr., LHP, Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley HS) threw 8 2/3 innings to earn the win for Willamette. He gave up eight hits and improved to 3-2 on the season. McGee pitched the final out for the Bearcats.

Chad Flett of Whitworth pitched into the ninth inning and took the loss, after being credited with all nine of Willamette's runs. Austin Knighton threw the last three outs for the Pirates.

Stalker was 3 for 5 with a homer, two doubles, two runs and five RBIs in the opener. He has recorded 40 RBIs in Willamette's 23 games this season. Anderson, McGee, Maslanik and Webster all added two hits apiece, as Willamette outhit Whitworth, 14-8.

Belet was 3 for 5 with a run scored for the Pirates. Billy Rigsby went 2 for 4 with a double and scored the final run in the bottom of the ninth.

After turning a triple play on defense in the first inning of the nightcap, the Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Michael Rierson (So., RF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) was hit by a pitch to open the stanza. He moved around the bases on a ground out, a wild pitch and a passed ball.

Matt Monahan of Whitworth was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the third inning. He eventually scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Dan Ramsey gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead later in the inning, when he drove in a run with a ground out to Stalker at first base.

Willamette tied the game in the fifth, when David Tufo (Jr., 3B, San Bruno, CA/Burlingame HS) received a lead-off walk and later scored. Whitworth regained the lead, 4-2, in the bottom of the inning, as Whiteside hit an RBI double and Flett provided an RBI single.

After falling behind, 5-2 in the sixth, the Bearcats put three runs on the board in the seventh to tied the game. Anderson provided the first run with a lead-off homer. With two outs, T.C. Lee (Fr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) doubled, then scored on a single by Colin Young (Sr., DH/RF, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS). Young moved to second on a single by Rierson, before scoring on an error.

Whitworth plated the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Rigsby kept the inning alive when he reached first base on an error by Bloom. A single by Monahan moved Rigsby to second, then Mac Collette entered the game as a pinch-runner. Belet singled to drive in Collette with the winning run.

Jon Hauck, who pitched the final two innings for Whitworth, improved to 2-1 with the win. Willamette reliever Scott Martin (So., RHP, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) fell to 0-2 with the loss.

The Pirates outhit Willamette 12-9 in the second game. Belet was 3 for 3 with a run and an RBI, while Whiteside went 3 for 5.

Eight of nine Bearcat batters earned an least one hit during the game. Young was the only Willamette player with more than one hit, as he went 2 for 5.

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 9, Whitworth University 4

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE

Whitworth University 6, Willamette University 5

Dan Maslanik smacked the first home run of his career to start a five-run ninth inning for the Bearcats in the first game.

Dan Maslanik smacked the first home run of his career to start a five-run ninth inning for the Bearcats in the first game.