Bearcats to Square Off against Nationally-Ranked George Fox

Doubleheader Set for Noon Saturday; Single Game will Start at Noon Sunday

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- Fresh off a doubleheader split with #1-ranked Linfield College last weekend, the Willamette University baseball team will look for an even better result against yet another nationally-ranked opponent, George Fox University, this weekend.

Willamette will play a doubleheader against GFU on Saturday, March 15, with first pitch of game one set for 12 p.m. (PDT). On Sunday, March 16, the Bearcats and Bruins will play a single game, also starting at noon.

The Bearcat Network is providing a Live Video Webcast and Live Stats of every game at John Lewis Field and Spec Keene Stadium this year, including all of this weekend's action. Coverage will start at 11:45 a.m. on both days.

Willamette enters the series at 7-8 on the year, 1-4 in NWC play. All four of the Bearcats' conference losses have come against either Pacific Lutheran University or Linfield, teams that are a combined 10-1 in the NWC.

Last weekend, Willamette took one game out of three from top-ranked Linfield.

In the first game of the series, six errors doomed the Bearcats in a 5-2 loss. Wildcats ace Chris Haddeland pitched a complete-game two-hitter to improve his record to 4-0 on the year. Willamette scored both of its runs in the top of the ninth inning on a two-run homer by Ty Wyatt (Fr., IF, Keizer, OR/McNary HS).

The Bearcats rallied in the second game of the series, however, as Tiras Koon (Jr., C, Honolulu, HI/Iolani School) smacked a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie, propelling Willamette to a 7-3 victory.

Peter Hoffman (Jr., RHP, Hayden, ID/Lake City HS) pitched his best game of the year for WU, holding Linfield to one run on six hits over seven innings pitched. Jackson Watt (So., RHP, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) tossed the final two innings to earn his second save of the year.

The Wildcats won the final game of the series, 5-2.

On Tuesday, March 11, Koon was selected as NWC Baseball Hitter Student-Athlete of the Week for his efforts in the series. All told, the junior hit .429 against Linfield, with an .857 slugging percentage and a .556 on-base percentage, while earning three RBIs and scoring one run.

Koon is Willamette's top hitter this season with a .313 batting average and a team-high 12 RBIs. Hunter Gallant (Jr., INF, Rescue, CA/Ponderosa HS) ranks second on the team with a .279 batting average, while Brandon Chinn (Sr., 1B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) is hitting .278. Wyatt leads WU with two home runs.

Willamette's three-man rotation consists of Matt Jepsen (Fr., LHP, Fallbrook CA/Fallbrook HS), Tyler Olson (Jr., RHP, Yuba City, CA/Yuba City HS), and Hoffman. Jepsen (2-3) leads the team with a 1.47 ERA, while Olson (0-1) has limited opponents to a .203 batting average.

George Fox, ranked 17th in this week's D3baseball.com Top 25, is coming off a series sweep of Pacific University last weekend.

Offensively, the Bruins are led by five players batting at least .350: Josh Rapacz (.477), Derek Dixon (.449), Danny Clifford (.358), Zac Israel (.357) and Zach Rapacz (.350). Each of those five players has had at least 56 at bats.

GFU's staff ace is senior Clay Gartner (5-0), who has achieved a 5-0 record and a 0.69 ERA in five starts. Junior Tom Zarosinski is 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts, while junior Sam Buckles is 3-0 on the year, with a 2.93 ERA in six appearances (four starts).

Tiras Koon, the reigning NWC Hitter Student-Athlete of the Week, has knocked in 12 runs and achieved a .313 batting average for the Bearcats this year.

Tiras Koon, the reigning NWC Hitter Student-Athlete of the Week, has knocked in 12 runs and achieved a .313 batting average for the Bearcats this year.