Ranta Pitches Complete Game for George Fox in 2-0 Win over Bearcats

Simon Throws Seven Strong Innings with Eight Strikeouts for Willamette

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

NEWBERG, ORE. -- Willamette University pitcher Brandon Simon (So., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills HS) tossed an excellent game on Saturday, March 19 against George Fox University, but lost in a pitchers' duel, as Brian Ranta threw a complete game, leading the Bruins to a 2-0 win over the Bearcats.

Ranta held WU to five hits. He registered eight strikeouts and gave up one walk.

With the win, GFU upped its record to 12-5 overall, 3-4 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 8-7 on the season, 3-4 in the NWC.

It was the second start in a row in which Simon threw well for the Bearcats, but took the loss in a pitchers' duel.

Last weekend, on Saturday March 12, Simon pitched seven innings and allowed just four hits and two runs (one earned) in a 2-1 loss to Linfield College. Including this week's game at GFU, Simon has a 2-2 record and a 1.55 earned run average.

Ranta and Simon kept both teams off the scoreboard during the first four innings with each pitcher holding the other team hitless in the first three frames. Both teams managed to earn two hits in the fourth stanza, but a strikeout ended the threat each time.

George Fox took a 1-0 lead by plating a run in the bottom of the fifth. Derek Blankenship doubled to left center to start the inning. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt back to the mound by Carl Mason. Blankenship scored on a ground out by Zac Isreal.

Ranta gave up three fly balls to the outfield in the top of the sixth but all three resulted in outs. Tyson Giza (So., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) and Doug Bloom (Sr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) each flied out to center field, while T.C. Lee (Sr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) flied out to the warning track in left.

Dan Winterstein singled through the left side of the infield to start the bottom of the sixth for GFU. After Winterstein stole second, Taylor Hunter struck out. Winterstein stole third on the play, just beating the throw from WU catcher Max Stepan (Sr., C/DH, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS). Sam Stahl drove in Winterstein with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Willamette sent just three batters to the plate in both the seventh and eighth innings, but got the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth.

Giza hit a long fly ball for an out to start the Bearcats' final at bat. Bloom followed Giza and grounded out, as GFU moved within one out of winning the game. Lee kept the inning alive with a single to center field.

Stepan singled to right field, allowing Lee to advance to third. Toss Semlacher (Fr., 3B, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS) grounded out to second base to end the game.

Willamette claimed a 5-4 edge in total hits. Stepan went 2 for 3 and was the only player on either team with more than one hit. Sky Kelley (So., RF, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS), who singled to lead-off the sixth inning but was left on base, finished 1 for 3. Bloom and Lee each went 1 for 4.

Stahl was 1 for 2 with an RBI for GFU. Blankenship finished 1 for 3 with a run scored.

The Bearcats and the Bruins will conclude their three-game NWC series with a doubleheader on Sunday, March 20. First pitch at Morse Field in Newberg, Ore., is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

George Fox University 2
Willamette University 0
Brandon Simon pitched a strong game for the Bearcats while earning eight strikeouts.

Brandon Simon pitched a strong game for the Bearcats while earning eight strikeouts.