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GEORGE FOX 11, WILLAMETTE 10: Stahl’s Slam Sparks Bruins to Sweep of Bearcats
SALEM, Ore. – Sam Stahl went 4-for-4 on the day, with a go-ahead grand slam home run during a six-run fourth-inning rally, to lead the George Fox University Bruins to an 11-10 win over the Willamette University Bearcats and a sweep of their three-game Northwest Conference series Monday afternoon here at John Lewis Field.
The game was the conclusion of a series that began on Saturday at George Fox, but wound up with single games Sunday and Monday at Willamette due to a swamped and unplayable outfield at the Bruins’ Morse Field. George Fox improved to 14-5 overall and 5-4 in the conference, while Willamette fell to 8-9 overall and 3-6 in the NWC after its sixth consecutive setback.
The game began as a hitters’ delight, turned into a battle of the bullpens in the middle, and put the fans on the edge of their seats in the final inning. The Bearcats got things rolling in the top of the first off George Fox right-hander Brian Davis with a walk to Tyson Giza and Doug Bloom’s first home run to right with one away. T.C. Lee doubled and scored on an error on Max Stepan’s grounder to second, and Adam Reid’s pop single down the right-field line plated Stepan for a quick 4-0 Willamette lead.
George Fox immediately responded with three in their half of the frame off righty Chris Torgerson (3-1), who entered the game with a 1.75 ERA. Dan Winterstein and Taylor Hunter hit back-to-back doubles to lead off for one run, and Hunter scored after stopping at third when Stahl’s single to right was over-run for an error. Eric Gantenbein singled Stahl to second, and after a sacrifice moved the runners up, Derek Blankenship’s ground out to short scored Stahl to make it 4-3.
The Bearcats boosted their lead back to four with three more in the second. Brandon Chinn, Giza, and Galen Duff stroked consecutive singles for one run, Bloom’s sacrifice fly to deep right scored Giza, and Stepan singled up the middle to score Duff.
Joey Clancy (1-0) replaced Davis to start the third for the Bruins and shut out the Bearcats over six innings, allowing only four hits with five strikeouts until the ninth. That gave the George Fox offense the time it needed to finally get to Torgerson, which the Bruins did in the bottom of the fourth.
Derek Aldrich walked to lead off, Blankenship singled, and both runners moved up when Torgerson tried a pickoff at second with no one covering. Aldrich scored on a throwing error at short on Zac Israel’s grounder, and after John Mountz bunted and reached on a forceout at third, Nate Hickok singled to load the bases. Winterstein drew a walk to force in Israel before Stahl launched a two-out drive over the fence in left-center for a grand slam, his first round-tripper of the season, and a 9-7 George Fox lead.
Southpaw Jamie McCaffrey replaced Torgerson and shut down the Bruins on two hits over 3.1 innings before being relieved by Parker Johnson, who surrendered a two-run blast into the trees in deep right-center to Hickok after walking Israel in the eighth. Those runs would prove to be critical in the ninth.
Down 11-7, Bloom fouled out to start the top of the ninth for Willamette, but Lee singled and Stepan walked, bringing on Andrew Snyder in place of Clancey. Tim Schilf singled to right to score Lee, Reid singled to left to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Kyle Kirwan singled to right-center to drive in two and put Reid on third as the tying run with only one out.
George Fox coach Marty Hunter, who had picked up his 100th career coaching win the day before when Taylor Hunter, his son, homered in the bottom of the 11th for a 5-4 win, elected to bring in Winterstein from right to try for the save. Chinn tried to get down a safety squeeze for the tying run, but Winterstein pounced on it quickly and fed Gantenbein at the plate for an easy tag on Reid coming in from third. He then notched his second save in as many appearances on the hill by getting Giza on a fly out to left.
In addition to Stahl’s four hits, Winterstein and Hickok each had two hits for the Bruins. The Bearcats out-hit the Bruins 15-12 (in fact, they have out-hit their opponents in five of their last six games but dropped all six), with Lee and Chinn collecting three each, and Duff and Reid two apiece.
NEXT: George Fox goes to Whitman College for a three-game conference series this weekend, playing two on Saturday and a single on Sunday, both at 12:00 noon ... Willamette hosts Pacific Lutheran University in a conference set with a doubleheader on Saturday and a single on Sunday, both at 12:00 noon.