Bearcats Open Series with 6-4 Win over Pacific Lutheran

Lutes Edge Willamette in Second Game, 7-6 in 10 Innings

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Led by home runs from T.C. Lee (Sr., LF, Lafayette, CA/Acalanes HS) and Max Stepan (Sr., C/DH, Pueblo, CO/Pueblo County HS), plus a strong pitching performance from Brandon Simon (So., RHP, Los Angeles, CA/Pacific Hills HS), Willamette University defeated Pacific Lutheran University, 6-4, in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 26 at John Lewis Field.

In Game 2, PLU scored twice in the top of the 10th inning on its way to a 7-6 win and a split of the doubleheader. Willamette concluded the day at 9-10 on the season, 4-7 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific Lutheran went to 8-10 overall, 4-4 in the NWC.

The first game featured 11 hits by Willamette, as the Bearcats built a 6-1 lead through eight innings. WU tallied single runs in the second and third innings, before Stepan added another run with a solo homer to center field to start the bottom of the fourth.

After UPS cut the lead to 3-1 with a run in the fifth, Willamette took control with two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. Lee smacked a two-run homer to right center to bring in both of the runs in the sixth. Doug Bloom (Sr., SS, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) also scored on the play.

In the seventh, Kyle Kirwan (So., 1B/RHP, Hillsboro, OR/Glencoe HS) singled through the right side and gave way to pinch-runner Tosh Semlacher (Fr., UT, Gold River, CA/Jesuit HS). Semlacher went to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out and scored when Tyson Giza (So., CF, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) sent a sacrifice fly to center field.

The game got closer when PLU pushed across three runs in the top of the ninth. Jacob Hoffman was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Corey Moore followed with a single. Hoffman scored on a sacrifice fly by Brock Gates.

Ryan Aratani doubled to left, sending Moore to third base. Moore and Aratani scored when Ryan Frost singled to center, pulling the Lutes within 6-4.

With two outs, Zack Halverson walked and Frost advanced to second. WU relief pitcher Parker Johnson (So., RHP, Carlsbad, CA/La Costa Canyon HS), the third Bearcat hurler of the contest, struck out pinch-hitter Jacob Olsufka to end the game and record his third save.

The winning pitcher in Game 1 was Simon (3-2), who started for the Bearcats. He allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He kept the Lutes hitless in the first four innings and did not allow a run until the fifth stanza. Max Beatty dropped to 2-2 with the loss for PLU. Beatty allowed six runs in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out seven batters.

In the second game, starting pitchers Blake Paisley (Jr., RHP, Saratoga, CA/Saratoga HS) of WU and Dan Johansen of PLU each gave up one run in the first five innings. Paisley left the game after the fifth stanza. He struck out four batters, walked three and allowed only four hits. Johansen pitched for the Lutes throughout all nine regulation innings.

PLU edge in front 2-1 with a run in the top of the sixth. The Lutes extended the lead to 5-1 when Aratani blasted a three-run homer to left center in the top of the seventh. The inning began with two quick outs, but Moore and Gates singled to bring Aratani to the plate.

WU rallied with four unanswered runs to force the extra inning.

In the seventh, Lee doubled, advanced to third on a single by Stepan and scored when Tim Schilf (Jr., 3B, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) reached base on an fielding error at third. Brandon Chinn (Fr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) batted next. Aratani caught Chinn's fly ball in center field and threw out Stepan at the plate for an inning-ending double play.

Adam Reid (Jr., RF, San Jose, CA/Lynbrook HS) reached base on an error in the bottom of the eighth. He moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Giza hit an infield single that was misplayed at shortstop.

WU tied the game with two runs in the ninth. An infield error, the fourth by the Lutes since the seventh, allowed Lee to reach base to start the rally. Stepan hit into a fielder's choice as Lee was thrown out on his way to second. A strikeout left the Bearcats with just one out, but Chinn hit a bunt single that he just beat out at first, and Semlacher followed with a pinch-hit single to right.

Stepan scored on Semlacher's single. Pinch-runner Sky Kelley (So., RF, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS), running for Chinn, brought home the tying run from second on a single by Reid.

Semlacher went to third and Reid advanced to second on the throw home when Kelley scored. The Lutes intentionally walked Giza to load the bases. Johansen got out of the inning when Galen Duff (So., 2B, Spokane, WA/Gonzaga Prep) flied out to left field.

For the Lutes in the top of the 10th, Jaron Iwakami hit an RBI single with two runners on and two outs to bring in Dominick Courcy with the go-ahead run. An error on the throw to the plate left runners at second and third. Moore hit an infield single off the tip of a leaping Michael Oliver's (Jr., Seattle, WA/West Seattle HS) glove at first base to drive in Hoffman with the second run.

In the bottom of the 10th, Bloom doubled to right field, reached third on a balk and eventually scored. Oliver earned the RBI on a single through the right side of the infield with two outs. Willamette had runners at first and third when Semlacher hit into a fielder's chose toward second base to end the game.

Johansen threw 128 pitches during his nine innings on the mound for PLU. He allowed eight hits and five runs (two earned). He improved to 2-1 on the season. Frost threw the 10th inning for the Lutes to earn his first save.

WU players with two hits in the first game were Lee, Stepan, and Duff, all 2 for 4. Lee had two runs and two RBIs during the game. In the second game, Giza was 2 for 4 and Lee went 2 for 5 for the Bearcats.

Aratani and Frost each finished 2 for 4 for the Lutes in Game 1, with Aratani scoring one run and Frost earning two RBIs. In Game 2, PLU received three hits apiece from Hoffman, Moore, Gates and Ryan Boyles. The Lutes had 17 hits and Willamette earned 10 in the nightcap.

The series will conclude with one game on Sunday, March 27. First pitch at John Lewis Field is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).


Willamette University 6
Pacific Lutheran University 4

Pacific Lutheran University 7
Willamette University 6
10 innings

Max Stepan belted a solo homer in the fourth inning of Game 1. It was his sixth homer this year.

Max Stepan belted a solo homer in the fourth inning of Game 1. It was his sixth homer this year.