Mar 18, 2012

WILLAMETTE 9, GEORGE FOX 8: Bearcats Stun Bruins with Two 9th-Inning Home Runs

A Winning Tradition

  • NCAA D-III National Champions (2004)
  • Eight NCAA D-III National Tournaments (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
  • One NCAA Regional Championship (West 2004)
  • 10 Northwest Conference Championships (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009)
  • 19 straight seasons .500 or better (1996-2014)
  • Nine Top 30 national rankings (2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2018)
  • 23 All-Americans
  • One National Pitcher of the Year (Scott Hyde - 2004)
  • One All-West Region Rookie of the Year (Matt Voelzke - 2017)
  • 10 Academic All-Americans
  • One NCAA National Coach of the Year
  • One NCAA Region Coach of the Year
  • 10 Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • Five NAIA District Tournaments (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994)
  • Three NAIA Disctrict Championships (1991, 1992, 1993)
  • Five NAIA Regional Tournaments (1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998)
  • Two NAIA Distrcit Coach of the Years
  • 22 players signed to professional contracts
  • Three Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Finalists (Derrick Jones - 2005, Scott Hyde - 2004, Eric Bell - 2003)
  • One Slats Gill Coach of the Year Award (Pat Bailey - 2004 finalist)
  • One George Fox Pasero Team of the Year (2004)

SALEM, Ore. – Ahead 8-6 with one out to go in the last of the 9th inning, the George Fox University Bruins could not finish it off, surrendering back-to-back game-tying and game-winning home runs in a 9-8 loss to the Willamette University Bearcats in a Northwest Conference baseball game Sunday afternoon her at John Lewis Field.

George Fox closer Alex Keenan (2-2), who had nailed down the Bruins’ 5-4 victory in the second game of a doubleheader the day before with a 1-2-3 9th, got the first two batters to start the final inning this time, then allowed a single by pinch hitter Rolenn Himuro.  Sky Kelley followed with his second home run of the game and sixth of the season, a blast to left that tied it.  Mitchell Rowan then launched a walk-off shot to right, his fourth of the year, to prevent a three-game series sweep by the Bruins.

Willamette took an early lead on Kelley's first round-tripper, a solo blast to left in the 1st.  George Fox tied it in the 2nd when Danny Clifford doubled to center, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Derek Dixon, and scored on an infield single by Timothy Williams.  The Bruins went ahead in the 3rd as David Greenstein singled, stole second, and after Taylor Hunter was hit by a pitch, scored when Josh Rapacz’s force out grounder to short was relayed wildly to first. 

George Fox maintained its one-run advantage until the 6th when they tallied five runs for a 7-1 lead, all off starter Peter Hoffman.  Williams was hit by a pitch, and back-to-back singles by Nick Benish and Todd Nagamine loaded the bases.  A single by Derek Blankenship down the right field line brought Williams home, the second run scored when Greenstein walked, and Nagamine reached home on a wild pitch.  The final two runs crossed the plate on a squeeze bunt by Hunter, Blankenship scoring from third and Greenstein never stopping on his way around from second.

Willamette cut the margin to 7-5 with four runs in the home half against Bruin starter Tom Zarosinski, who had been cruising until then.  Tyson Giza walked to open the stanza and Kelley was hit by a pitch, then Rowan reached to load the bases when Zarosinski’s throw to second on a comebacker to the mound was wild, pulling Blankenship off the bag at second.  A balk advanced all three runners, and Kelley scored when Tosh Semlacher grounded out to shortstop.   Tiras Koon walked and Andrew Wilson reached on a fielding error by relief pitcher Taylor Hill, loading the bases again. Hunter Gallant then drove in two runs with a single through the left side.

Clifford belted a solo homer on the first pitch of the 7th to provide George Fox with an insurance run, but Willamette got it back in home half when Kelley and Rowan connected for back-to-back doubles, setting up the Bearcats’ miracle finish in the 9th.

Willamette reliever Ryan Smith, who entered the game with a runner at first and no outs in the top of the 9th, got out of the jam with a double play on a strikeout and caught stealing sequence, then another whiff, to even his record at 1-1. 

For George Fox, Clifford finished 4-5 with a double, a homer, two runs and an RBI. Williams was 2-3, scored once and drove in a run.  For Willamette, Kelly went 3-4 with four runs scored, two homers, a double and three RBIs. Rowan hit a double and a homer while going 2-4, with two runs and two RBIs.

NEXT: George Fox (9-12, NWC 5-4) was set to play at Corban University Wednesday, but that game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 27, at 3:00 p.m.  The Bruins now will play Whitman College in a three-game conference series Saturday (two games) and Sunday (one game), both starting at 12:00 noon at Concordia University’s new facility in Portland due to wet conditions on the Bruins’ Morse Field ... Willamette (5-14, NWC 3-6) is scheduled to play a make-up game at Corban Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.