Rowan Goes 8 for 10 in Twinbill, as Bearcats Sweep Pirates

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University swept a doubleheader from Northwest Conference rival Whitworth University on Saturday, April 24, as the Bearcats edged out a win in the first game and pulled away in the second game. Designated hitter Mitchell Rowan (So., Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) was solid in both games, earning eight hits in 10 at bats for the Bearcats.

The wins allowed Willamette to even its NWC record at 10-10, while improving to 14-19 overall. Whitworth dropped to 9-27 overall, 6-16 in the NWC.

Both teams created offense throughout the doubleheader, as the Bearcats and Pirates combined for 66 hits and 43 runs during the afternoon. In the first game, Whitworth recorded 16 hits and the Bearcats earned 11 to go with seven walks. In the second game, Willamette registered 24 hits and walked seven more times, while Whitworth achieved 15 hits.

Willamette added timely hitting and some outstanding defensive plays to gain an edge in the first game. In the second game, the Bearcats scored in six of their eight at bats, including five runs in the seventh inning.

The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the opener, but Willamette plated three runs with two outs in the bottom of the inning. The Bearcats earned two walks and two hits during the inning, including a two-run single by Derek Collins (Fr., 1B, Yorba Linda, CA/Esperanza HS/Fullerton College) to complete the rally.

Willamette extended the lead to 5-2 with a pair of runs in the third stanza. Whitworth scored once in the fourth inning and then tied the game with two runs in the top of the fifth. Each team scored one in the sixth for a 6-6 tie and once in the seventh for a 7-7 tie.

The run for the Bearcats in the sixth was produced with quality at bats from several players. Eli Kass (Fr., 2B, Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS) singled between first and second to start the inning. Tyson Giza (Fr., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) sent Kass to second with a sacrifice bunt. Kass advanced to third when Doug Bloom (So., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) flied out to center field. Rowan singled to left center for the RBI.

In the eighth inning, Willamette found a way to break the tie and move in front for good. The Bearcats also tallied an insurance run during the inning for a 9-7 advantage.

Giza singled to left as the leadoff batter in the eighth. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt to third by Bloom. After two walks filled the bases, Sky Kelley (Fr., RF, Canby, OR/Jesuit HS) brought in Giza with a sacrifice fly to center field. Max Stepan (Jr., C/DH, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS) followed with an RBI double, as T.C. Lee (Jr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) scored.

The Pirates tallied one run in the top of the ninth, as Nathan Johnson doubled to open the inning and Kevin Valerio hit an RBI single two outs later. Willamette reliever Brandon Simon (Fr., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills HS), who threw the final 2 2/3 innings for the win, struck out left fielder John Rausch to end the game. Simon upped his record to 3-0.

Rowan was 4 for 4 with three runs and an RBI in the first game. Lee went 2 for 3 and led all players with four RBIs.

For Whitworth, Johnson was 4 for 4 with a run and an RBI. JR Jarrell was 2 for 4 with a leadoff homer in the fourth inning.

Willamette trailed 2-0 after the top of the first in the second game, but scored four times in the bottom of the inning and remained in front the rest of the way. Dylan Summers (So., C, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS) hit a two-RBI double to bring in the third and fourth runs.

After Whitworth cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the third, the Bearcats responded with a total of seven runs in their next three trips to the plate. Willamette scored once in the third and recorded three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

The 11-3 lead was threatened somewhat by Whitworth in the top of the seventh, when the Pirates created four runs on five hits and an error. The Pirates couldn't stop the Bearcats in the bottom of the inning, as Willamette extended the lead to 16-7 by placing five runs on the scoreboard.

Rowan went 4 for 6, scored twice and earned two RBIs in the second game. Giza, Kelly and Lee each contributed three hits for the Bearcats. Valerio was 2 for 4 for Whitworth with a solo home run and three runs scored.

Lee had a solid all-around day for Willamette. He was 5 for 8 in the doubleheader, with seven RBIs and two runs scored. He also contributed several top plays in left field, including a catch as he jumped into the fence and an assist to keep Nick Ashley from stretching a single into a double in the second game.

Chris Torgerson (Jr., RHP, Sacramento, CA/Jesuit HS) pitched 6 2/3 innings for Willamette and improved to 6-3 with the win in Game #2. James King, the starter for Whitworth, fell to 0-2 with the loss.

Willamette and the Pirates will conclude the series with one game on Sunday, April 25. First pitch at John Lewis Field is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 9
Whitworth University 8

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 18
Whitworth University 8
Mitchell Rowan finished the day with eight hits, five runs and three RBIs for the Bearcats.

Mitchell Rowan finished the day with eight hits, five runs and three RBIs for the Bearcats.

Brandon Simon (3-0) won the game after pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief.

Brandon Simon (3-0) won the game after pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief.