Bearcats Outscore Corban 15-13 in Slugfest

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to surge into the lead for the final time, as the Bearcats defeated Corban College, 15-13, in a high scoring baseball game at John Lewis Field on Tuesday, April 13. Willamette blasted five home runs during the game, including two each by Mitchell Rowan (So., OF, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) and Sky Kelley (Fr., RF, Canby, OR/Jesuit HS).

The Bearcats faced the unusual situation of playing on their home field, yet batting first as the visiting team. Willamette was originally scheduled to play on the Warriors' field, but wet conditions prevented Corban from playing at home, so the game was moved to John Lewis Field.

WU improved to 10-18 on the season. Corban dropped to 10-29 overall.

Willamette smacked its way to a 7-0 lead after two-and-a-half innings. The Bearcats tallied one run in the first inning on Rowan's first homer of the game, a two-out solo shot to right center.

WU added two runs in the second on a leadoff home run by Kelley and a sacrifice fly by T.C. Lee (Jr., DH/OF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS). Max Stepan (Jr., C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS), who followed Kelley's homer with a walk, scored on the sacrifice fly.

The Bearcats posted four runs in the third. Tyson Giza (Fr., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) walked to open the stanza and Doug Bloom (Jr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) was hit by a pitch. Rowan brought in both runners with his second homer. It was his team-leading ninth home run of the season.

Derek Collins (Fr., 1B, Yorba Linda, CA/Esperanza HS/Fullerton College) added a solo blast to right center -- still with no outs. The Warriors gave up one more hit, a single by Stepan, before getting out of the inning.

Willamette's lead disappeared in the bottom of the third, when Corban pushed across eight runs. Three singles loaded the bases and Tyler Lake belted a grand slam homer to left field. Luke Balbas added an RBI single and Nate Hiebert completed the rally with a three-run homer.

In the top of the fourth, WU regained the lead, 9-8. Rowan drove in one run with a double down the right field line, and Collins singled down the left field line to send Rowan across the plate.

The Warriors tied the game with a run in the fifth inning and move in front, 12-9, with three runs in the sixth. Steven Blum, who doubled and eventually scored in the fifth, tacked on a two-RBI double in the sixth.

Corban relief pitcher Quinn McNab, who entered the game in the third inning, shut down the Bearcats in the fifth, sixth and seventh. WU forced him from the mound with three consecutive hits to start the eighth inning.

The third hit, a single by Giza, drove in pinch-runner Mikey Lemon (So., UT, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS/Linfield College) to cut the Corban lead to 12-10. A sacrifice bunt by Bloom put runners at second and third. Rowan was intentionally walked by new reliever David Hull.

Collins doubled to left center, scoring Eli Kass (Fr., 2B, Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS) and Giza to tie the game. Kelley smacked his second homer of the game to send Willamette in front, 15-12.

Corban tallied one run with one out in the eighth inning, but Kelley covered lots of ground to catch a fly ball near the right field line for the second out. A fielder's choice ended the inning and WU relief pitcher Parker Johnson (Fr., RHP, Carlsbad, CA/La Costa Canyon HS) faced just four batters in the ninth.

Johnson recorded his second save, while Brandon Simon (Fr., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills HS) improved to 2-0 with the win. Simon allowed just one run and two hits in two innings of work.

With a combined 28 runs and 33 hits, there were numerous players with significant offensive stats. Five Bearcats earned two or more hits, including Rowan (3 for 3) and Collins (3 for 5). Rowan scored four runs and earned five RBIs, while Collins and Kelley each finished with two runs and four RBIs.

Corban outhit Willamette, 19-14, but had three fewer homers than the Bearcats. Luke Balbas was 4 for 5 and Winsor went 3 for 5. Jonathan Ramirez ended the day 3 for 5 and scored three times. Hull suffered the pitching loss for Corban, as he fell to 0-1.

Willamette will play a Northwest Conference series at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., this weekend. The Bearcats will play the Missionaries in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 17, followed by one game on Sunday, April 18. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PDT) each day.

Willamette University 15
Corban College 13
Mitchell Rowan smacked two homers for the Bearcats and has nine home runs on the season.

Mitchell Rowan smacked two homers for the Bearcats and has nine home runs on the season.

Sky Kelley was 2 for 5 with two homers, two runs scored and four RBIs.

Sky Kelley was 2 for 5 with two homers, two runs scored and four RBIs.