Baseball battles powerhouse playoff opponents
For the Review
After letting the first game of the NCAA Division III Central Regional competition against the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point slip through its hands, the baseball team rebounded.
The ’Cats went on a storm to upset the central’s top seed, No. 7 nationally ranked Illinois Wesleyan University May 15 in an elimination game, trying to keep their National Championship dream alive.
Linfield faces off against Wartbug College today at 3:30 p.m. in another must-win game.
The ’Cats came out swinging in the life-or-death game against the Titans. Both junior designated hitter Stew Davis and senior catcher Drew Van Cleave had RBI singles in the bottom of the first inning, which gave Linfield an early, 2-0 advantage.
The Titans answered in the second inning when junior designated hitter Kevin Goshorn hit a solo homerun.
After a single run was driven in during the third inning, the game was tied at two, but not for long.
The first batter, senior center fielder Kevin Mills, hit a deep home run to put the ’Cats back ahead moving into the fifth inning.
After Wesleyan tied the game again, the Wildcats were ready for the challenge. Van Cleave doubled to drive in senior shortstop David Bachofner and put Linfield back on top. After Van Cleave advanced to third on an error by junior pitcher Matt Aronson, Mills hit a sacrifice fly to push the ’Cats lead to 5-3.
The Titans scored a run in the seventh inning, but solid pitching by closing freshman pitcher Evan Hilberg, including a strikeout in the final inning, secured the 5-4 victory for the Wildcats, eliminating the Titans from the tournament.
Mills led the ‘Cats on the day, racking up two hits, two RBIs and one run in three at bats. He also tallied up four put-outs on the day.
Starting senior pitcher Brian Clark had a good day as well, adding three strikeouts to his season total and giving up six hits against 29 batters.
The Wildcats swung the bat like a completely different team, tallying 10 hits for the day compared to just five hits in eleven innings in their first-round loss. The ‘Cats had three errors in the game.
The previous day, Wisconsin-Stevens jumped out to an early lead in the fourth inning when senior first baseman Brad Frank hit a solo homerun off of Linfield pitcher sophomore Garrett Dorn to put the Pointers ahead, 1-0.
Dorn had a successful day on the mound for the Wildcats. He gave up just seven hits, walked two and had three strikeouts versus 34 at-bats in the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, sophomore third baseman Rhett Fenton doubled with one out to get the inning moving.
The next batter, senior second baseman Shannon Chung, singled on an error by Frank. Fenton scored unearned to tie the game at one each.
Early in the ninth inning, Bachofner doubled and moved to third after Davis reached on an error. The Wildcats found the bases loaded with zero outs when Mills sent one into center field. The relay was just in time as catcher senior Doug Coe tagged Bachofner out at the plate to compete the double play.
Going into the 10th inning, the Wildcats found themselves in scoring position as senior right fielder Jordan Boustead was on third with just one out.
Ellis attempted to bat in the run, but a catch by third baseman freshman Eric Fritz set up a double play for the Pointers to end the inning.