Top-ranked ’Cats, Bruins battle for NWC lead
-photo by Jordon Jacobo/Review staff writer/photographer
Review staff writer
The Linfield baseball team won three of four games against the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers April 12 and 13, allowing them to hold onto the No. 1 spot in the Northwest Conference.
“Every baseball game is important,” head coach Scott Brosius said. “Especially when you are fighting for the conference title.”
The ’Cats won both games April 12, with scores of 10-4 and 8-2.
The Pioneers held the ’Cats at bay during the first four innings of the first game of the series, not allowing Linfield any runs.
Linfield broke away and scored four runs in the fifth and sixth innings by senior shortstop David Bachofner, junior outfielder Stew Davis, senior outfielder Kevin Mills, sophomore third baseman Rhett Fenton, senior catcher Drew Van Cleave and senior infielder Jordan Boustead. The runs left the score at 8-3.
Two more runs in the seventh inning for Linfield—hit in by Davis and Bachofner, who scored on a home run— and one more by the Pioneers in the eighth ended the game at 10-4.
Senior pitcher Brian Clark improved to 8-0 for the year. He went seven innings and gave up just two earned runs on five hits.
“We pitched and played defense really well,” Clark said. “We were able to come from being behind and that has always been a good ability for our team.”
Saturday’s second game provided another opportunity for the ’Cats to pull through. The Pioneers held Linfield off until the third inning when the ’Cats got in three runs, putting the score at 3-2.
Linfield’s pitchers kept the Pioneers scoreless for the rest of the game, giving Linfield the victory, 8-2. Linfield had one run each in the fourth and sixth innings by Fenton and senior second baseman Cory Ellis, and three runs in the eighth by Ellis, senior infielder Shannon Chung and sophomore catcher Mitch Webb.
“All year long our pitching staff has been amazing,” Brosius said.
Sophomore pitcher Garrett Dorn was virtually unstoppable in the ’Cats second game against the Pioneers, allowing only one earned run.
The Wildcats totaled eight RBIs in the last game April 12.
The next day brought a bittersweet ending to the conclusion of the series against Lewis & Clark. The first game finished in seven innings, with a final score of 2-1 for Linfield.
The Pioneers scored their only run in the first inning, while the ’Cats once again came from behind to score their only runs in the fifth inning.
The second game of the day finished with a score of 4-0, with the Pioneers taking the win.
“We all had pretty high expectations coming off a really successful series the week before (against Pacific University),” Brosius said. “We were all a bit let down.”
The loss puts the ’Cats only one win ahead of George Fox University for the conference title.
“All and all, we didn’t achieve what we would have liked,” Dorn said. “Lewis & Clark is one of the teams that we shouldn’t have lost to.”
Losing energy at the plate seems to be what caused the loss, Dorn said. Linfield struggled to make any sort of offense during the game, except during the ninth inning when the team finally created a little momentum and loaded the bases with two outs.
Davis and Stanley led the ’Cats with two hits each.
With the loss now behind them, the ‘Cats are focusing on the next series against Willamette University.
“We are going to prepare as we always do,” Clark said. “We have a really good team bond, so it allows us to know what the other person is capable of out on the field.”
The ’Cats play next at Willamette on April 19 and 20 at noon.
The series will be especially crucial to the team because the outcome will determine its standing going into the much-anticipated series versus George Fox the following weekend.
“It’s in our hands right now,” Brosius said. “We are in control of our destiny.”