Willamette Wins Second Game to Split with Boxers

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University built a 9-0 lead in the first five innings on its way to a 12-5 victory over Pacific University in the second game of a doubleheader, as the Bearcats forced a split with the Boxers on Saturday, April 3 at John Lewis Field. Pacific let a 6-2 lead disappear in the opener before rallying to defeat Willamette, 13-9.

The Bearcats ended the day at 8-15 overall, 5-9 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific moved to 7-19 overall, 5-9 in the NWC.

Willamette pounded out 15 hits, including four doubles and a home run, during the second game. The Bearcats also took advantage of six walks and two hit batsmen.

Mitchell Rowan (So., RF/DH, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) smacked a double in the bottom of the first inning to drive in Tyson Giza (Fr., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) with the first run of Game #2. Doug Bloom (Jr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) scored when Derek Collins (Fr., 1B, Yorba Linda, CA/Esperanza HS/Fullerton College) followed with an RBI ground out.

A double play ended the threat, but WU added one run in the second inning and two in the third for a 4-0 lead.

In the second inning, Dylan Summers (Fr., C, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS) singled to right and later scored. In the third, Rowan reached base on an error to open the stanza and later stole second base. He scored on a single by Collins.

Max Stepan (Jr., DH/C, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS) doubled to move Collins to third. Michael Oliver (So., 3B, Seattle, WA/West Seattle HS) hit an RBI single to score Collins.

WU didn't score in the fourth inning, but plated a pair of runs on three hits in the fifth. Collins drove in one run with a single to center field. T.C. Lee, who doubled, scored on a bases-loaded balk. Giza followed with a bunt single that drove in another run. The final run of the inning was scored on a sacrifice fly by Bloom.

While the Bearcats were building a 9-0 advantage, Willamette starting pitcher Jake Jones (Fr., RHP, Wilsonville, OR/Wilsonville HS) was creating a solid performance on the mound. He held the Boxers scoreless in the first five innings, while allowing just two hits.

Pacific finally had some success in the sixth, with two walks and two singles before Jones left the game. Nate Rasmussen, the last batter Jones faced, drove two runs to break the shutout with a single to left. Rasmussen stole second and later scored on a single by catcher Scott Rowland.

Jones allowed just four hits and three runs overall. He achieved four strikeouts and walked five batters. He improved to 1-1 with the win.

Willamette tacked on two runs in the seventh inning. Eli Kass (Fr., 2B, Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS) walked and stole second to start the inning. Two outs later, Rowan blasted a home run over the left field fence. WU also scored once in the bottom of the eighth, while the Boxers tallied two runs in the top of the ninth.

Rowan finished the second game 3 for 5 with two runs and three RBIs. He hit for three-fourths of the cycle, with a single, double and home run. For the doubleheader, Rowan was 5 for 9, hit a home run in each game, and earned four runs and five RBIs

Other top hitters for WU in the Game #2 were Lee (3 for 4), Stepan (2 for 3), Giza (2 for 5) and Oliver (2 for 5). Giza, Collins and Oliver each drove in two runs. Relief pitcher Scott Martin (RHP, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), the Bearcats' only senior, threw four-plus innings to record a save.

Joey Pulito was 2 for 3 for Pacific with one run scored in the second game. Jeramey Probert was 2 for 5 and also scored once. Starting pitcher Rob Dittrick, who gave up five runs and six hits in two-plus innings, fell to 1-4 with the loss.

In Game #1, designated hitter Mike Nagamine singled for Pacific to drive in two runs in the top of the first inning. Rowan and Stepan provided run-scoring singles in the bottom of the inning, as WU tied the score, 2-2.

The Boxers plated two runs in the second stanza to break the tie, before adding single runs in the fourth and fifth for a 6-2 advantage.

Pacific's starter, Jeff Bethke, pitched 6 2/3 innings in the opener. After allowing two runs and three hits in the first inning, he gave up no runs and one hit over the next five. He escaped a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the second and forced WU to leave two runners on base in the third.

With two outs in the seventh, Bethke was unable to continue his mastery of the Bearcats. Rowan homered to left field. Collins doubled to center and Sky Kelley (Fr., RF, Canby, OR/Jesuit HS) belted a two-run homer to cut the lead to 6-5. Stepan followed with a single down the right field line.

Probert left second base to replace Bethke on the mound. Lee, the next batter, smacked a two-run homer to left field, giving WU a 7-6 advantage. Probert fielded a ground out to end the inning.

The Boxers regained the lead in the top of the eighth. Probert opened the stanza with a single. Rasmussen batted next and sent the ball over the center field fence for a two-run homer. Pacific remained in front, 8-7, at the end of the inning.

Willamette gave up five runs on four hits in the top of the ninth. Pulito singled, Nick Takasa doubled and Kaeo Lau Hee walked to load the bases with no outs. The Boxers lost the designated hitter on a pitching change earlier in the game, so reliever Dan Wolfe had to bat for the first time this season. He was hit by a pitch, driving in Pulito with an insurance run.

Later, Rasmussen was one strike from making the second out of the inning before he cleared the bases with a grand slam home run to left field. WU scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a homer by Stepan, but couldn't get any closer.

Probert picked up the win and went to 2-0 on the season. Wolfe earned his third save of the year. Blake Paisley (So., RHP, Saratoga, CA/Saratoga HS) fell to 1-3 with the loss for Willamette.

Both starters left without a decision. Bethke threw 141 pitches in his 6 2/3 innings. Devin Grindy (Jr., RHP, Washougal, WA/Camas HS) of Willamette went seven innings and tossed 100 pitches.

Rasmussen topped Pacific, as he went 3 for 5 with two homers, six RBIs and and three runs scored. Pulito and Takasa each finished 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI.

Stepan was 3 for 4 and drove in three runs, while scoring twice for the Bearcats. Stepan, Kelley and Lee each hit a homer for Willamette during the game, while Collins belted two doubles.

Willamette and Pacific hope to complete the series with a game on Monday, April 5. First pitch at John Lewis Field is set for 3 p.m. (PDT). The game was originally scheduled for Friday, April 2, but was postponed due to the weather.

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Pacific University 13
Willamette University 9

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 12
Pacific University 5
Mitchell Rowan scored four times during the doubleheader. He hit two homers and was 5 for 9 at the plate.

Mitchell Rowan scored four times during the doubleheader. He hit two homers and was 5 for 9 at the plate.