Whitworth Defeats Willamette, 15-14, on Diving Catch in Ninth

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University outfielder Dan Belet made a diving catch in left field to prevent a game-winning hit by Willamette University designated hitter Mitchell Rowan (So., Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday, April 25. With the defensive play, the Pirates defeated the Bearcats, 15-14.

Willamette claimed the three-game series at John Lewis Field two games to one. The Bearcats won the first two games on Saturday, 9-8 and 18-8.

In Sunday's game, Whitworth took a 15-13 lead with two runs in the top of the ninth inning. The Bearcats scored one run in the bottom of the inning and had the bases loaded for Rowan, who went 10 of 15 at the plate during the weekend.

Rowan sent a full-count pitch into shallow left field behind the shortstop, but Belet was able to make the diving grab about one foot off the ground while running in toward second base.

If the ball had fallen for a base hit, Willamette would have won the game. Max Stepan (Jr., C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS) was nearing the plate from third base and Eli Kass (Fr., 2B, Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS) was rounding third when Belet caught the ball.

Willamette ended the series at 14-20 on the season, 10-11 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth moved to 10-27 overall, 7-14 in the NWC.

The game completed a high-scoring weekend for both teams. Willamette outscored Whitworth, 41-31. The teams combined for 103 hits, as the Bearcats finished with 52 and the Pirates had 51.

Whitworth took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. JR Jarrell hit a bases-loaded single for the Pirates to drive in the final two runs. The Bearcats picked up one run in the bottom of the inning, but the Pirates plated two runs in the second to claim a 5-1 advantage.

A three-run third inning allowed Willamette to pull within 5-4 and another run in the fourth tied the score. In the third, T.C. Lee (Jr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) reached base on an error by the shortstop with two outs and the next four batters recorded hits. One of the hits was an RBI double by Tim Schilf (So., 3B, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School).

In the fourth, Rowan blasted a solo home run to right field. It was his team-leading 11th home run of the season.

Whitworth regained the lead with four runs in the top of the fifth. Two runs scored on a single by Kevin Valerio and the other two runs crossed the plate on a single by Kyle Krustangel.

The Bearcats produced a mammoth inning in the sixth to surge past the Pirates. Willamette tallied eight runs on six hits and three errors. Sky Kelley (Fr., RF, Canby, OR/Jesuit HS) earned two RBI doubles -- both down the left field line. Schilf also recorded an RBI double and Dylan Summers (So., C, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS) provided a two-run single.

In the top of the seventh, Whitworth tied the game, 13-13, by scoring four times. Belet drove in the final two runs to tie the score.

The game was still tied in the top of the ninth, when Nick Ashley singled and Scott walked to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Krustangel advanced the runners to second and third. Ashley scored on a single by Belet and Landon Scott reached home on a single by Jarrell.

Scott moved from third base to pitcher for Whitworth in the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a leadoff single to Lee. After achieving a strikeout, Scott allowed Stepan to single and walked Kass to load the bases.

Tyson Giza (Fr., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) followed with a single to center field, as Lee scored for Willamette to cut the lead to one run. The bases were still loaded one out later when Rowan went to the plate.

Relief pitcher Kittrick Kane (1-0) was the winning pitcher for the Pirates, while Scott recorded his fourth save of the year. Andrew Wyman (Jr., RHP, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) fell to 0-1 for Willamette with the loss.

Kass went 3 for 4 and Kelley was 3 for 6 for the Bearcats. Bloom, Rowan, Schilf and Summers each supplied Willamette with two hits during the game. Rowan scored four runs and Lee crossed the plate three times.

Valerio finished 4 for 5 with four runs and three RBIs for Whitworth. Scott was 3 for 4 and matched Valerio with four runs and three RBIs. Belet went 3 for 5 and drove in four runs.

Willamette is slated to play a non-conference game at Pacific University at 6 p.m. (PDT). on Tuesday, April 27. The Bearcats will close out the season with an NWC series May 1-2 at the University of Puget Sound.

Whitworth University 15
Willamette University 14
Sky Kelley hit a pair of RBI doubles during Willamette's eight-run sixth inning.

Sky Kelley hit a pair of RBI doubles during Willamette's eight-run sixth inning.